Benito Mussolini

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Benito Mussolini
Signature of Benito Mussolini
Mussolini's standard as Italian Prime Minister and Duce (1927–1943)

Listen to Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini ? / i (born July 29, 1883 in Dovia di Predappio , Province of Forlì , † April 28, 1945 in Giulino di Mezzegra , Province of Como ) was an Italian politician . From 1922 to 1943 he was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy. As Duce del Fascismo ("leader of fascism") and Capo del Governo ("head of government") he was dictator at the head of the fascist regime in Italy from 1925 . Audio file / audio sample

After starting out in the socialist press, Mussolini became editor-in-chief of Avanti! on, the central organ of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI). When he openly represented nationalist positions there, he was dismissed in autumn 1914 and expelled from the PSI. With financial support from the Italian government, some industrialists and foreign diplomats, Mussolini soon founded the newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia . In 1919 he was one of the founders of the radical nationalist and anti-socialist fascist movement, as whose "leader" ( Duce ) he established himself until 1921.

In October 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III appointed. Mussolini headed a center-right coalition cabinet after the March on Rome . The fascist party had merged with the national conservative Associazione Nazionalista Italiana to become a right-wing rallying movement. With an electoral reform in 1923/24, Mussolini secured a majority of the parliamentary seats. In the Matteotti Crisis of 1924, he narrowly escaped being overthrown and laid the foundations for the fascist dictatorship with the elimination of parliament, a ban on the anti-fascist press and all parties with the exception of the PNF , the replacement of the trade unions by corporations , the establishment of a political police force and the appointment instead of the election of the Mayor. As head of government and often holder of several ministerial posts at the same time, Mussolini issued decrees with the force of law and was formally responsible only to the monarch.

Mussolini's foreign policy was aimed at a supremacy in the Mediterranean and the Balkans , which created an early contrast to France. Until the mid-1930s he sought an understanding with Great Britain. In 1929 Mussolini ended the conflict between the nation-state and the papacy with the Lateran Treaty . He initially opposed the German gain in influence in Central and Southeastern Europe. After the Italian conquest of Ethiopia , which was not approved by the Western powers and responded to with economic sanctions, Mussolini moved closer to Germany until 1937, and in May 1939 he concluded a military alliance . On June 10, 1940, assuming the war would last a few months, he entered World War II on the German side . The Italian attacks on British positions in the eastern Mediterranean and in East Africa failed, as did the attack on Greece in the same year, whereby Italy largely lost the ability to wage war independently ("parallel war").

From autumn 1942 onwards, the regime's political, social and military crisis quickly came to a head and undermined Mussolini's personal dictatorship. In July 1943 he was overthrown by opposition fascists and monarchists who wanted to break the alliance with Germany and forestall an anti-fascist mass movement. Released from prison, he headed the German puppet state Repubblica Sociale Italiana until 1945 . In the last days of the war, Mussolini was arrested and executed by communist partisans .

Early years

Childhood, youth and political beginnings

Mussolini's birthplace in Predappio

Benito Mussolini was the first-born child of the married couple Alessandro (1854–1910) and Rosa Mussolini (née Maltoni, 1858–1905). The family lived in the schoolhouse in Dovia, a village suburb of Predappio . Mussolini's mother, the daughter of a small landowner, had been a teacher here since 1877. She had married Alessandro Mussolini, whose social status was below hers, in January 1882 against the opposition of her parents. Alessandro Mussolini earned his living as a blacksmith for a few years and had little formal education. In contrast to his Catholic, also politically conservative wife, Alessandro Mussolini was an active socialist and as such had achieved a certain prominence in Predappio and the surrounding area - and most recently as a member of the city council and deputy mayor. In Dovia, the Mussolinis were the only “intellectuals” of the place who had a considerable influence, even if their material living conditions hardly differed from those of the peasants and farm workers in their immediate vicinity. In Alessandro Mussolini's political thinking, elements of Marxism , which at that time was barely received in Italy, mixed with social reformist and Bakuninist positions. He chose the first names of his eldest son with a view to Benito Juárez , Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa . Alessandro Mussolini withdrew from politics before the death of his wife, leased some land and ran an inn in Forlì in the last years of his life .

Benito Mussolini left Dovia at the age of nine and, well arranged by his mother, switched to a Salesian boarding school in Faenza , which was attended mainly by boys from families from the urban bourgeoisie in Romagna . Here Mussolini, who was not accepted as equal in this environment, was repeatedly involved in tangible arguments with classmates. After pulling a knife in an argument, he was expelled from school after two years. At the state school in Forlimpopoli , which he attended from then on, he developed into a “model student”. He finished it in 1901 with a diploma that entitles him to teach at elementary schools.

After the attempt to get the post of municipal secretary of Predappio with the help of his father had failed, Mussolini took up a teaching position in Gualtieri in February 1902 . However, his contract was terminated in June. It is unclear whether this was due to arguments with the local clergy, a lax understanding of Mussolini's service, or the (guaranteed) affair with a married woman.

Benito Mussolini on a photo taken by the Swiss police, 1903

A few weeks later emigrated Mussolini - like 50,000 other Italians in 1902 - in the Switzerland . He occasionally worked here (a total of several weeks) as a construction worker and shop assistant, but was not dependent on regular wage labor like other, often completely destitute migrants because of his parents' money sent. Since he did not comply with the draft for military service the following year, an Italian military court convicted him of desertion. In Switzerland, Mussolini began to be active politically. He joined the international organization of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI) and after a short time wrote regularly for the local party newspaper L'Avvenire del Lavoratore . Appearances in front of gatherings of Italian migrant workers showed his talent as a political speaker and drew the attention not only of the Swiss but also of the French police to the “anarchist” agitator, who was arrested and expelled several times. Mussolini soon found access to the circle around Giacinto Menotti Serrati and Angelica Balabanoff , who both promoted him. Mussolini adopted essential elements of his early political worldview from Balabanoff. Like them, he understood Marxism to mean primarily “revolutionary” activism. His frequent reference to Marx from then on served primarily to distinguish within the party from the reform socialism of Filippo Turatis . Mussolini's actual preoccupation with Marxist thought remained superficial and eclectic here and later.

In Switzerland, Mussolini also read syndicalist writings, especially Georges Sorel's . Then there was the reading of Henri Bergson , Gustave Le Bons , Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche . In 1904 he studied for a semester at the University of Lausanne with the famous sociologist Vilfredo Pareto and with his assistant Pasquale Boninsegni. In his journalistic articles, Mussolini suddenly placed the arguments and terms of these authors alongside Marxist categories, without recognizing their theoretical incompatibility. Despite a storm of indignation in Switzerland over the undemocratic ruler , the University of Lausanne awarded Mussolini an honorary doctorate on the occasion of its 400th anniversary in 1937 at the instigation and on the basis of unauthorized pronouncements from Boninsegnis .

Politically, between 1904 and 1914, Mussolini essentially represented the standpoint of revolutionary syndicalism, but without personally belonging to syndicalist organizations. Early on in his writings there was a "tendency to interpret social processes through biological conceptions (species, elimination of the weak, selection, plant man), which prepares the gradual abandonment of the Marxist clearly defined concept of class in favor of the 'mass'." There was also a cult of the irrational , which was at least unusual for a socialist author and which was trained on Sorel :

“The so-called 'serious' people form the social ballast. Culture is the work of the so-called 'madmen'. "

- Priest : fascism

Mussolini returned to Italy towards the end of 1904. His mother died shortly afterwards. Before that, he had already followed the draft for military service, which he served in a Bersaglieri regiment until September 1906 . He then worked again as a teacher, first in Tolmezzo and then at a Catholic school in Oneglia . In November 1907 he passed an exam at the University of Bologna and thus qualified as a French teacher. In Oneglia, Mussolini began to write again for the socialist press. His discharge in July 1908 marked the final failure as a teacher; he then moved back to his father in Forlì.

After the intercession of Serrati and Balabanoff, Mussolini was transferred in January 1909 to the post of secretary of the socialist party in Trento, Austria . In addition, he took over the editing of the local party newspaper. In Trento he met the irredentist Cesare Battisti and soon wrote regularly for his newspaper Il Popolo . He also corresponded with Giuseppe Prezzolini , the editor of the magazine La Voce , from whom he apparently hoped for protection . Mussolini began in Trento to develop a positive concept of “nation”, which was extremely unusual in the Italian socialist movement at the time and, like his connection to Prezzolini, suggests that his personal ambitions were already beyond the framework of the socialist at that time Party went out.

The motif of personal ambition, especially of the young Mussolini, is often emphasized in literature. It is now accepted that Mussolini was driven at least as much by the need to rise "somehow and somewhere" as by political conviction. Angelo Tasca , who knew him personally, took the view that “the ultimate goal” for Mussolini “was always only Mussolini himself; he never knew anyone else. ”Before his real ascent in the socialist party began in 1910, Mussolini hoped that one day he would be recognized as an“ intellectual ”in Paris . Even when he was at the head of the fascist movement, he still attached great importance to the prestigious title professore made possible by the 1907 exam . The historian Paul O'Brien sees in the young Mussolini an “ambitious petty-bourgeois intellectual with a decidedly individualistic sense of his personal worth”, who has been under the influence of the anti-liberal and anti-socialist cultural avant-garde of Italy since 1909.

At the end of August 1909, Mussolini was arrested by the Austrian police on a pretext for a visit by Emperor Franz Joseph I and deported to Italy four weeks later.

Editor-in-chief of Avanti!

The expulsion from Austria made Mussolini's name a subject of political debates in Rome for the first time , as the socialist members of the Chamber of Deputies took up the matter several times up to the spring of 1910. Back in Forlì, Mussolini briefly considered emigrating to the United States , but rejected these plans. An application to the liberal-conservative Bolognese newspaper Il Resto del Carlino, the most influential newspaper in his home region, was unsuccessful.

In Forlì, Mussolini began a relationship with 19-year-old Rachele Guidi , daughter of his father's partner. In January 1910 he took over the leadership of the local section of the PSI and the editing of the local party newspaper La lotta di classe . As an editor and speaker, Mussolini made a name for himself in Romagna within a few months. In the wing struggles within the socialist party, Mussolini “constructed” himself as a revolutionary “extremist” with radical polemics. At this point in time the reformist leadership group of the PSI, which had largely controlled the party since 1900 and excluded the leading syndicalists in 1908, was increasingly attacked. The left wing led by Costantino Lazzari and Serrati, which Mussolini also joined, gained influence. Even in this phase, Mussolini did not let the relations with Prezzolini that had been established in Trento break.

When the Giolitti government declared war on Turkey in September 1911 , Mussolini called a general strike in Forlì. As in other cities in Italy, there were riots and attempts to block troop transports; Mussolini was arrested on October 14, 1911, along with several other socialists from the region (including Pietro Nenni ), and sentenced to one year in prison by a court in Forlì in November. When he was released early in March 1912, his name was known far beyond Romagna. At the 13th party congress of the PSI, which began on July 7, 1912 in Reggio Emilia , Mussolini, together with the spokesmen of the left wing, spoke out in favor of the exclusion of the “right” reformists around Leonida Bissolati and Ivanoe Bonomi , who opposed the war in 1911 supported Turkey and discredited themselves to the king in March 1912 by going to the court. However, he spared the “left” reformists Turatis, who remained in the party. In Reggio Emilia, Costantino Lazzari took over the party chairmanship; Mussolini, like Angelica Balabanoff, was elected to the party board.

On December 1, 1912, Mussolini replaced the reformist Claudio Treves as editor-in-chief of Avanti! from. The editorial staff of the central organ of the Socialist Party had moved its headquarters from Rome to Milan in 1911, to which Mussolini now also moved. Under Mussolini's leadership, syndicalists took over a large part of the editorial posts of the Avanti! . Mussolini turned out to be a very capable journalist (one biographer calls him “probably the best journalist in the country” at the time); he succeeded in multiplying the circulation of the paper within a few months and increasing it to over 100,000 copies by 1914. That was a remarkable achievement, since the PSI - unlike the SPD , for example - had not developed into a mass party despite its electoral successes before the First World War (in 1914 the party had around 500 members in Rome and even in its stronghold of Milan only 1,300 members) and many Workers and peasants were illiterate. His “growing irrationality”, his undifferentiated use of terms by non- or openly anti-socialist authors (“I have not yet found any direct incompatibility between Bergson and socialism”), as well as his defense of Nietzsche, soon aroused criticism. In a letter to Prezzolini immediately after the Reggio Emilia party congress, Mussolini emphasized that he felt “a little strange” among the revolutionaries. His socialism was and remained an "unsafe plant". Structurally, Mussolini's worldview, which had been solidifying since 1909, was related to figures of thought of the “European and Italian cultural and intellectual reaction against reason”; it differed in fundamental questions from that of other representatives of the PSI left.

In 1913, Mussolini began to publish a magazine that he personally edited (Utopia), which aimed at an intellectual audience and was decidedly non-partisan. In the same year he ran for the first time in a parliamentary election, but was clearly defeated in Forlì by the Republican candidate.

The Ancona Congress in April 1914 confirmed the left wing's predominance in the party. By the so-called “red week” (Settimana rossa), a wave of strikes and barricade fights in June 1914, Mussolini was surprised, as was the rest of the party leadership, and presented himself in the Avanti! but with the usual radical editorials behind the workers.

When the First World War began in August 1914, Mussolini spoke out in line with the party line for unconditional neutrality for Italy. Nonetheless, his articles struck a decidedly “anti-German” tone from the start; Germany, so wrote Mussolini, has been the “bandit who sneaks around the streets of European civilization” since 1870. This partisanship did not differ significantly from the spontaneous sympathy of many left Italian intellectuals for the French Republic, which was still based on the distrust inherited in the Risorgimento compared to "the Germans" (here meant: the Austrians) was accentuated. Nevertheless, in the first few weeks of the war, Mussolini expressly refused an Italian intervention in favor of France. The turning point was heralded when, on September 13, 1914, he wrote an interventionist article by Sergio Panunzio in the Avanti! let print. Mussolini told Amadeo Bordiga that he saw the partisanship for neutrality as “reformist”. With this he formulated for the first time the position, which was repeatedly affirmed in the following months, that “revolution” and intervention were inextricably linked. To what extent Mussolini actually believed in this argument is controversial. While Renzo De Felice, for example , advocates the thesis that Mussolini remained a genuine “revolutionary” after 1920, Richard Bosworth emphasizes the political “double game” that Mussolini began in October 1914 at the latest.

Behind the scenes, Mussolini had already assured several employees of bourgeois newspapers in September 1914 that the Socialists - if it were up to him - would not hinder Italian mobilization and support a war against Austria-Hungary. Hints about it appeared on October 4th in Il Giornale d'Italia and on October 7th in Il Resto del Carlino . The reluctant Mussolini was forced to explain himself publicly.

On October 18, 1914, he published the article "From absolute to active and active neutrality", in which he called on the socialist party to revise the "negative" attitude towards war and to recognize that "national problems also exist for the socialists" :

“Do we, as human beings and as socialists, want to be the submissive spectators of this great drama? Or do we not want to be its protagonists in some way and in a certain sense? Socialists, Italians, take note: sometimes it happened that the letter killed the spirit. Let's not save the letter of the party if that means killing the spirit of socialism! "

- Priest : fascism

The PSI board met in Bologna on October 19 to discuss this article. He excluded Mussolini, who tried to justify himself in a discussion lasting several hours, from the party board of directors. That was tantamount to removing him from the editorial office of the party newspaper. Mussolini himself had his whereabouts with the Avanti! made dependent on the approval of the party leadership for his positions. The resolution he submitted to the party executive committee received only one vote (his own); to save face, he immediately "quit" the Avanti! . Major Milanese newspapers such as the Corriere della Sera and Il Secolo immediately offered Mussolini a platform. Mussolini had evidently not expected the rapid and harsh reaction of the party leadership, which he saw as a personal offense. In the internal discussions that preceded his expulsion from the party, he is said to have appeared ashen and trembling and announced that he would “get you back”.

Turn right

On November 15, 1914, Mussolini reported back with a new daily newspaper that had initially been declared as socialist - Il Popolo d'Italia . The paper intervened on the side of the Entente- friendly “interventionists” in the debate about Italy's position on the war. The bellicose interventionists spoke for a minority of Italian society; They found support and an audience above all in the liberal bourgeoisie and radical nationalists, while the bulk of industrial and agricultural workers were openly opposed to Italy's participation in the war from the start. The influential Catholic clergy also turned against the war because they were not interested in weakening the “great Catholic power” Austria-Hungary . The fundamental conflict between “interventionists” and “neutralists”, which in the spring of 1915 was carried out to the threshold of the civil war, ushered in the crisis of the liberal state, whose government succeeded in entering the war against the will of the majority of the population and the parliament, whereby it performed skillfully served the small but vocal interventionist minority under whose “pressure” it pretended to act. Domestically, Italy's entry into the war had the characteristics of a coup d'état - "the 'bright days' of May 1915 appear in more than one respect as a dress rehearsal for the march on Rome."

In these months so-called fasci appeared for the first time , whose members organized street demonstrations and sometimes violently attacked opponents of the war - above all against institutions and organizations of the labor movement. During the “red week” in June 1914, right-wing vigilante groups had already used gun violence against workers. The members of these groups were on average “young, from the north, educated, activist and anti-socialist” and came from bourgeois or petty-bourgeois milieus. Mussolini, who had been expelled from the PSI on November 24, 1914, participated in the merger of several previously independent fasci to form the Fasci d'azione rivoluzionaria in December 1914 ; at this early point in time he referred to the supporters of these groups as fascisti . However, he was still without his own political power - compared to aristocratic spokesmen for interventionism such as Gabriele D'Annunzio , Filippo Tommaso Marinetti , Enrico Corradini and Luigi Federzoni , he was still at the bottom of a “complex ladder of patronage ”. These patronage relationships first proved themselves with the establishment of the Popolo d'Italia, whose circulation in May 1915 was around 80,000 copies. In this context, Filippo Naldi, a journalist from Bologna who had close ties with large landowners and the government in Rome, played an important role. In the critical initial phase, Naldi not only provided the destitute Mussolini with money, but also made printing machines, paper and even some editors of the Resto del Carlino available to him. The most important financial sponsor of Mussolini at this stage was Ferdinando Martini , the Minister for the Colonies. Large sums came from industrialists such as Giovanni Agnelli ( Fiat ) and the Perrone brothers ( Ansaldo ). Mussolini also received subsidies from the French secret service and the French embassy in Rome. When the collapse of the Italian army after the Battaglia di Caporetto (the 12th Isonzo battle) seemed imminent in autumn 1917 , the Roman representative of the British secret service MI5 supported Mussolini's paper for at least one year with a weekly payment of £  100 (around 6,400 euros according to today's value). The inflow of these funds also made it possible for Mussolini to develop a lifestyle through which he could habitually catch up with the circles who supported him. From then on he dined in expensive restaurants, bought a horse for rides and a car.

The founders of the early fasci were often former syndicalists who had broken away from the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) and justified their support for Italy's participation in the war against the Central Powers with “left” arguments. The leading head of this group was Filippo Corridoni , who died on the Isonzo Front in 1915 , who pleaded early on for intervention and spoke of a “revolutionary war”. Mussolini also moved around Corridoni until 1915. These "left interventionists" were not in a genuinely socialist or syndicalist theoretical tradition, but initially resorted primarily to modified ideological fragments of the Risorgimento - above all of Mazzinianism  . Even the early relevant contributions of Mussolini in the Popolo d'Italia were, "despite all social-revolutionary remnants, as far removed from socialist internationalism and materialism as possible." In the sometimes hysterical campaign for the intervention, the Popolo d'Italia made a special profile shrill tones; When in May 1915 it appeared for a short time that the “traitor” Giovanni Giolitti would become Prime Minister again, Mussolini demanded that “a few dozen MPs” be shot. Mussolini had prepared this transformation, which to many contemporaries appeared to be sudden and sudden, publicly. Recent studies have shown that Mussolini had turned his magazine Utopia into a forum for “imperialist, racist and anti-democratic” arguments before October 1914. Ostentatiously, he renounced Marx, “the German”, and the “stick-Prussian” Marxist socialism and propagated an “anti-German war”. Mussolini initially stuck to the concept of socialism, but gave it a completely different content. The socialism of the future will be "anti-Marxist" and "national". In August 1918 the word “socialist” was removed from the subtitle of Popolo d'Italia . At this point in time, Mussolini's authoritarian nationalism charged with social Darwinist elements had finally come to the fore:

“Anyone who says fatherland says discipline; whoever says discipline admits that there is a hierarchy of authorities, functions, intelligences. Wherever this discipline is not freely and consciously accepted, it must be imposed, also by force, also - the censorship may allow me to say it - with the dictatorship that the Romans of the First Republic resorted to in the critical hours their story. "

- Priest : fascism

From this point of view, Mussolini also criticized the conservative liberalism of the old elites, embodied in politicians like Antonio Salandra and Giolitti, as this had failed because of the “integration of the masses into the nation”. For example, he stuck to the demand for land reform, since this was the only way to secure “the rural population for the nation”. Only a “trench aristocracy ” (trincerocrazia), an “aristocracy of function”, is expected to be willing to take such measures.

Mussolini's lines of thought reflected in their own way the deep crisis of the traditional order, which was noted by many observers in 1917 at the latest. From 1915 to 1917 the Italian governments - "not to mention the reactionary and brutal monarchist generals" - tried to wage a "traditional" war. They had made no attempt to justify or justify the war to the workers and peasants who made up the bulk of the soldiers. It was only after the catastrophic defeat in the 12th Isonzo Battle that the new Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando initiated a propaganda campaign aimed at making the war plausible for those who had to fight it in the trenches. At the end of 1917, however, the legitimations and mechanisms of the old system of rule clearly reached their limits, creating a prospect of demand for the political ideology, the foundations of which had arisen in the context of the Popolo d'Italia . Early fascism was not the only political force that appeared in this context. Italian radical nationalism (cf. Associazione Nazionalista Italiana ), for example, the “right-wing interventionism” of 1914/15, went through a relatively independent development until 1919.

Mussolini as a soldier in the First World War, 1917

Between August 1915 and August 1917, Mussolini himself did military service. He was with the 11th Bersaglieri Regiment on the Isonzo (until November 1915, see Isonzo battles ), in the Carnic Alps (until November 1916) and at Doberdò . During this time he continued to publish in the Popolo d'Italia . These articles were reissued in 1923 as a “war diary” and were distributed in numerous editions in fascist Italy. During a stay in a hospital in December 1915, he married Rachele Guidi, the mother of his daughter Edda, who was born in 1910 . In 1916 and 1918, respectively, the sons Vittorio and Bruno were born. Although "educated" in the Italian army very often received the rank of officer, Mussolini only made it up to caporal maggiore (a lower rank of non-commissioned officer). After a short time he had to leave a course for officer candidates at the instigation of the army command. According to all available evidence, soldiers of the team ranks met the founder of the Popolo d'Italia with suspicion, and in some cases openly hostile. The regimental commander's offer to write the regimental history and thus escape the trenches, which were particularly dangerous for the "warmonger", was turned down. By the fall of 1916, however, Mussolini was so exhausted that he began to look for ways to retire from the service. On February 23, 1917, Mussolini was seriously wounded during an exercise behind the front when a mortar shell exploded when it was fired, killing several soldiers near him. Until his discharge from the military in August, he stayed in a Milan hospital.

Mussolini and the Italian Right 1919–1922

Mussolini and early fascism

The world war shook Italy's political system. The calculation of the Salandra government , which had promised itself above all a marginalization of the socialists and a permanent shift of the field of political forces to the right - in sum a "hierarchical reorganization of class relations" - had not worked out. Instead, the locally and regionally limited conflicts of the prewar period had "assumed national dimensions and had become protests against the war, against the state, against the ruling class." The Italian upper class did not manage to cope with the conflicts of the postwar period, as in France and Germany channeling and cushioning with tactical concessions; the struggle for social hegemony was carried out directly and suddenly and ultimately overwhelmed the liberal institutions.

The defining theme of the post-war period, which was also central for Mussolini, was the rise of a radical left and the associated entry of the “masses” into political life. Unlike in Germany, for example, in Italy the reformist current of the labor movement, which was willing to cooperate with the parties of the bourgeoisie, and which within the PSI mainly represented the circle around Filippo Turati , was structurally weak. In September 1918 the so-called “maximalists” (massimalisti) around Serrati had prevailed in the socialist party , who took the Bolshevik October Revolution as a model and represented positions similar to the German USPD . In 1919 the party and the trade unions experienced an unprecedented influx of new members, in the parliamentary elections on November 16, 1919, the PSI received 32.5% of the vote (156 seats) and became the strongest party. In March 1919, mass strikes forced recognition of the eight-hour day. In Lazio and parts of southern Italy, farm workers and smallholders began spectacular land occupations in the summer, while the socialist union Federterra, at least in the Po Valley , managed to organize farm workers almost entirely and to dictate wages and working conditions to the large landowners. Yet the rise of Italian socialism was unstable. The majority of his supporters were bitterly poor, without material and cultural resources and usually only networked locally; many members joined the party and the trade unions for the first time after the end of the war, their ties to the socialist program remained loose and unsettled. The contemporary liberal, conservative and fascist discourse on the “red danger” (cf. biennio rosso ), which has long been reproduced in historical literature, conceals the fact that the socialist party, even in its heyday, never succeeded in becoming the majority party on a social scale will. 43 of the 69 provinces also had “white” majorities in November 1919; The Catholic PPI , which was only founded on January 18, 1919, won 100 mandates in this election, the various liberal groups together 252.

Parallel to the upswing of the political left, a “new right” - which was initially still highly fragmented - was established, which was not simply conservative, but more or less openly rejected the institutions of the traditional order. Their common denominator was an ideological amalgam of nationalistic disappointment over the “mutilated victory” (vittoria mutilata) in the World War and aggressive confrontation with the “red danger”. The widely acclaimed head of this right was initially Gabriele D'Annunzio . Mussolini was known throughout Italy as editor-in-chief of Popolo d'Italia at the turn of 1918/19 , but only had political weight in the local context of Milan. In the first few months after the war, he took up the widespread demand for a constituent national assembly, which was particularly popular among the returning soldiers from the front and which fit perfectly into the ideological profile of Popolo d'Italia .

Members of the Arditi battalions, which were surrounded by an elite cult in 1917/18 , played an important role in the symbolic history of Italian fascism. They formed the most militant cadres of the early fasci and brought the black shirt , the fez , the slogan A noi! and the later party anthem Giovinezza into the fascist movement.

On March 23, 1919, Mussolini called together in Milan the representatives of about twenty Fasci that had formed anew after the end of the war or had been revived by surviving activists of 1914/15. The meeting (which took place in a room provided by the Alleanza industriale e commerciale in Piazza San Sepolcro ) was attended by around 300 people, including Roberto Farinacci , Cesare Maria De Vecchi , Giovanni Marinelli , Piero Bolzon and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti . The composition of the participants, later revered as sansepolcristi , helped the umbrella organization (the Fasci italiani di combattimento ) founded on this occasion to achieve a dazzling, "bivalent" appearance. Former “left interventionists” (still) made up the majority, “but next to them sit the nationalists, the reactionaries and simple scabs.” The claim made by Mussolini and often without qualification in historical literature to represent the combattenti (the war participants) , was only partially true. The first post-war fasci mainly attracted demobilized reserve officers or students of middle-class origin who had been officers during the war or had served with the Arditi . By far the association of combatants with the largest number of members, the Associazione Nazionale dei Combattenti (ANC), was - apart from special regional cases - initially oriented towards democracy and anti-fascism; Its social composition (predominantly former peasants and officers of lower ranks) was completely different from that of the fasci .

The organization set up in Milan stayed - despite some spectacular actions, including an arson directed by Marinetti in the editorial building of the Avanti! on April 15, 1919 - initially without any influence. At the end of 1919 there were only 31 fasci with a total of 870 members. Only gradually did the Fasci di combattimento succeed in asserting themselves against rival liberal, anarchist and syndicalist groups who also claimed the term fascio (each with a different content). In August 1919, Mussolini launched a new magazine (Il Fascio), the main task of which was to interpret fascismo in terms of its organization.

The programmatic guiding principles of the Fasci di combattimento were vague and completely meaningless for the practice of the organization at this point in time. In March 1919, no formal program at all had been adopted. Mussolini read only three statements in Milan and expressed his solidarity with the fighters at the front, demanded the annexation of Fiumes and Dalmatia and announced the fight against the socialist and Catholic "neutralists". On June 6, 1919, the Popolo d'Italia finally published a program in which "it is not difficult to see a reactionary core in questions of the social order behind the 'left' facade, which arises primarily from the political demand for a republic" is. Even in its soon-to-be-forgotten “radical” passages - contrary to a widespread legend - the program was by no means “social revolutionary”, but was largely based on the reformist line of the nationalist union Unione Italiana del Lavoro . The lowering of the voting age to 18 years and the right to vote for women, the abolition of the Senate and its replacement by a "technical National Council", minimum wage and eight-hour day, taxation of war profits, state social security, the distribution of undeveloped land to war veterans, were called for Representatives of workers' organizations in the “administration” of private and public companies (“as far as they are morally and technically worthy of it”), the closure of Catholic schools and the confiscation of church property. Mussolini avoided assigning the Fasci di combattimento to one of the existing political camps, especially in this early phase . At the Fasci's first congress , held in Florence in October 1919 , he declared that they were “not republican, not socialist, not democratic, not conservative, not nationalist”. He polemicized against the left-liberal Prime Minister Nitti and showed solidarity with the Fiume company D'Annunzios, without tying himself or his organization too closely to this project.

In the parliamentary elections on November 16, 1919, the fascist list led by Mussolini and Marinetti received only 4,675 votes in the entire province of Milan and won no mandate. After this setback, Milan fascists threw an explosive device into a socialist demonstration on November 17th. Mussolini was suspected of being the instigator and - after an arsenal was found during a search - arrested, but released after just one day due to an intervention from Rome .

On 24./25. May 1920 the second Fasci di combattimento congress took place in Milan . Most of the former “left interventionists” left the National Council of the organization that had found numerous new supporters in the crumbling liberal milieus after the socialist election victory. Marinetti also left the Congress after Mussolini had spoken out against a continuation of the anti-Catholic polemics. Mussolini also qualified the demand for a republic in Milan. The thrust against "anti-Italian" socialism, however, was emphasized even more. The eight-hour day and the minimum wage disappeared from the fascist program, as did the demand for a “technical” participation of workers in running the factories. Now the fascist polemics were directed against an alleged "state collectivism" or "state Bolshevism" in Italy; The historian Adrian Lyttelton assesses Mussolini's speech in Milan, in which he professed a “ Manchester conception ” of the state, as a draft of a “capitalist utopia”. During the clashes between the metalworkers 'union FIOM and the employers ' association Confindustria , which resulted in the temporary occupation of many factories by the workforce in September 1920, Mussolini repeatedly called for class cooperation in the Popolo d'Italia . He accused the other anti-socialist parties of not opposing the socialists with the necessary decisiveness - but the fascists would do so now. They are a minority, but “a million sheep will always be scattered by the roar of a single lion.” These words heralded the actual “birth” of fascism, whose advances were soon “by no means just sporadic episodes for demonstration purposes”, but “ Expression of a deliberately planned, systematic violence ”aimed at the complete destruction of the socialist organizations.

From blocco nazionale to Partito Nazionale Fascista

The “explosion of anti-socialist violence” occurred in the autumn of 1920, when large sections of the bourgeois elite had lost their trust in the state's ability to bring the labor movement under control and to suppress it. Liberal newspapers now openly advocated the authoritarian rule of a "strong man" or a military dictatorship . It was precisely at this time that the socialist movement entered a phase of disorientation and internal disputes, as the course of the factory occupations in September 1920 had made it clear that the centrist “maximalists” at the top of the PSI were unwilling, despite their radical rhetoric, to be serious to work towards a socialist revolution (these factional struggles led to the split-off of the left wing of the party in January 1921, which was constituted as the Partito Comunista d'Italia ). In October 1920, "the initiative in the social disputes passed over to the possessing classes and the new rights."

The fasci, until then "practically meaningless, partly anemic structures, partly nonexistent", now experienced a steady influx of new members and an enormous increase in political significance. The number of local fasci multiplied within a few months from 190 (October 1920) to 800 (late 1920), 1,000 (February 1921) and 2,200 (November 1921). Their reputation in the anti-socialist camp had risen abruptly when, on November 21, 1920, several hundred armed fascists attacked the constituent meeting of the newly elected socialist municipal council of Bologna , killing nine people. The “Battle of Bologna” ushered in the period of fascist squadrismo , the armed “punitive expeditions” against “red” party and trade union houses, newspaper offices, workers' homes , cultural centers, local administrations, cooperatives and individuals. The individual squadre were often equipped (sometimes directly managed) by industrialists and large landowners, but benefited above all from direct and indirect support from government agencies at all levels. The war minister in the cabinet Giolitti V , the right-wing Social Democrat Ivanoe Bonomi , who was expelled from the PSI in 1912 , suggested in October 1920 the entry of discharged reserve officers into the fasci , whereby a large part of the previous wages should continue to be paid to them. Justice Minister Luigi Fera ordered the courts in a circular to let proceedings against fascists fall asleep if possible. Hundreds of socialist municipal administrations that had become the target of fascist "punitive expeditions" were officially dissolved by the government in the spring of 1921 "for reasons of public order", including those in Bologna, Modena , Ferrara and Perugia . The dominance of the socialists in many local parliaments had particularly worried the liberal elites since 1919, as the social balance of power threatened to tip over in favor of the left.

The spread of the fasci took place regionally very unevenly and as a rule without any direct political, ideological or personal reference to Mussolini. Most of the political symbolism of Italian fascism also emerged spontaneously during this phase, independently of the Milan center, and was gradually adopted by the entire movement through imitation. Trieste , where both nationalist and anti-socialist agitation was particularly intense and where the conflicts with the Slovenian minority flowed into one another, developed into the first real stronghold of fascism. Here the local fascio had 14,756 members in March 1921 (18% of the total membership). The organizations in Turin , Rome and Ravenna , on the other hand, only had 581, 1,480 and 70 members at that time.

Mussolini's personal role in the fascist movement remained unclear until 1921. His relations with the leaders of provincial fascism, who primarily organized fascist violence, were repeatedly downright strained. The future Duce was not one of the advocates of intransigent radicalism, was not least concerned about his own advancement and tended to compromise (an integration of the right wing of the socialists and the trade unions in a “national bloc” remained his goal until this became impossible in 1924 ). It was of essential importance for Mussolini's position that he lived in the financial center of the country and that even after 1919 the large "donations" from industrialists and bankers mostly went directly to him and the Popolo d'Italia ; He was thus comparatively independent within the fascist movement and was able to distribute the money needed in the province.

Mussolini succeeded in integrating the Fasci di combattimento into a bourgeois electoral bloc led by Giolitti before the parliamentary elections on May 15, 1921 . Mussolini had been in contact with the influential politician, who had been prime minister again since June 15, 1920, through an intermediary since October 1920. The blocco nazionale comprised all parties with the exception of the socialists, the communists and the Catholic popolari . For Mussolini personally, this success meant entering the zone of "political respectability" defined by the old elites. Together with Mussolini, who had been placed at the top of the blocco lists in Milan and Bologna, 34 other fascists moved into the Chamber of Deputies (with 275 seats for the entire block).

Giolitti, who had not achieved his most important electoral goal - the lasting weakening of the socialists and the popolari - resigned on June 27, 1921. Giolitti's successor Bonomi, who had stood in Mantua along with fascist candidates on the blocco nazionale list , tried in July 1921 to detach the right wing of the PSI from the party and tie it to the government camp. He won some leading fascists (including Mussolini, Cesare Rossi and Giovanni Giuriati ), four socialist MPs and three functionaries of the trade union confederation CGdL for the signing of a "pacification pact" (August 2, 1921). Mussolini justified this surprising step by arguing that it was impossible to "liquidate" Italy's two million socialists; the “permanent civil war” option is naive. At that time he was under the impression of the events of Sarzana ('fatti di Sarazena'), which was noticed throughout Italy , where on July 21 a "punitive expedition" of 500 Ligurian and Tuscan squadristi had been put to flight after - for the fascists completely unexpected - had a handful of Carabinieri on the side of the inhabitants. 14 squadristi , a policeman and some citizens died. For Mussolini, who openly spoke of a “crisis of fascism”, this raised the question of what the fasci “are really worth when they are confronted by the police power of the state.” However, behind this move was also one that was not least rooted in personal ambitions Mussolini's intention to “parliamentarize” the fluctuating and loosely networked fasci and to combine them into a party in order to participate in political power in Rome in the medium and long term.

Fascist extremists, especially the exponents of the militant "agrarian fascism" of the Po Valley, Emilia , Tuscany and Romagna such as Italo Balbo and Dino Grandi , who advocated a complete smashing of the labor movement and the establishment of an authoritarian regime without regard to liberal interest groups possible, openly attacked Mussolini. He retired on August 18, 1921 from the executive committee of the Fasci di combattimento , followed by Rossi, who complained that fascism had become a "pure, authentic and exclusive movement of conservatism and reaction". However, the "conservative" fascists were unable to agree on a leader who could have replaced Mussolini after Gabriele D'Annunzio had rejected the offer. In the run-up to the third congress of the fasci, which took place in Rome in November 1921, the two factions approached each other: Mussolini declared the peace pact - which was never implemented anyway - to be a "ridiculously meaningless episode in our history" on October 22nd (and announced it in the November completely open), while the “reactionaries” around Grandi resigned themselves to founding the Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF). In Rome, Mussolini, now established as Duce , tried to dispel the doubts that had arisen about the resoluteness of his anti-socialism:

“I do not regret that I was a socialist. But I broke the bridges to that past. I am not nostalgic. I am not thinking about getting to socialism, but about getting away from it. In economic matters we are liberals because we believe that the national economy cannot be left to collective bodies or the bureaucracy. "

- Bosworth : Mussolini's Italy

Mussolini provided further clarifications on the sidelines. The remnants of republican and anti-clerical ideas from the early days of the fasci were removed from the party program . As early as 1920 Mussolini had distanced himself from foreign policy adventures in the style of D'Annunzio; only “madmen and criminals” fail to understand that Italy needs peace.

The "March on Rome"

Mussolini and the Quadrumvirate during the March on Rome on October 28, 1922

After the Congress of Rome, Mussolini resolutely consolidated his position within the fascist movement. Michele Bianchi , a close confidante of the Duce, became the PNF's secretary . The squadre were formally assigned to the local party groups and placed under a general inspection. The leaders of provincial fascism (for whom the Ethiopian loan word ras soon became naturalized) nonetheless maintained a considerable degree of autonomy, which they were able to secure and in part expand even during the years of dictatorship.

Since January 1922, at Mussolini's suggestion, the magazine Gerarchia (edited by Margherita Sarfatti until 1933 ) was published, which was supposed to provide fascism with a binding intellectual superstructure. Personally, Mussolini was not a “fundamentalist” of the gradually outlined fascist ideology, but above all paid attention to its practical political benefits.

After Bonomi's resignation, the Liberal Luigi Facta formed a government in February 1922 that was widely regarded as a placeholder for a new Giolitti cabinet. During the reign of Facta, a “second wave” of squadrismo began; the socialist strongholds in northern Italy became the target of regular campaigns by the fascists, who in Romagna, for example, appeared "like an army of occupation". At the beginning of March, several thousand squadristi occupied the Free State of Fiume . In the new campaigns against Bologna and Ferrara in May / June, tens of thousands of fascists were each drawn together. The socialist and syndicalist trade unions that had formed the Alleanza del lavoro in February 1922 called for a general political strike against fascist terror on August 1, 1922. It was canceled on August 3rd after a fascist ultimatum. In a counter-attack, the fascists now also penetrated left-wing strongholds such as Parma and Genoa , where street battles lasted for several days. According to recent calculations, at least 3,000 people were killed in these clashes by October 1922. In September the fascists reached the outskirts of Rome with advances to Terni and Civitavecchia .

In July 1922, after fascist riots in Cremona , against which the authorities had once again taken no action , Facta was overthrown with the votes of the popolari, the socialists and liberal democrats (but immediately charged with forming a government again). Mussolini now began to negotiate with Giolitti, Orlando and Salandra - the "strong men" of Italian politics - about his role in a future cabinet. It was not yet clear whether he was “a coming man or the coming man”. His contributions to the Popolo d'Italia and his speeches in the Chamber of Deputies had not only been aimed at demonstrating a high degree of "statesmanlike" credibility and judgment, while he left the radical statements to Bianchi, Balbo, Farinacci and others. The demonstration of foreign policy competence had served Mussolini's first widely acclaimed trip abroad, which took him to Germany in March 1922 . In Berlin he met with “remarkably high-ranking” interlocutors, including Chancellor Joseph Wirth , Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau , Gustav Stresemann and the influential liberal journalist Theodor Wolff , who later remained on friendly terms with Mussolini.

In October 1922 the political crisis reached its climax. The socialist and communist left was largely eliminated as a political factor. After the failure of the general strike in August, the unions again lost massive members and influence, while the socialist party split again in early October. It was probably not until October that Mussolini realized how close he had actually come to power. In the negotiations with Giolitti through intermediaries, he now indicated that he was ready to lead a coalition government. Since the PNF only had 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, a cabinet led by Mussolini - if it did not act as a coup government immediately - had to rely on the support of the liberal and conservative blocs of parliament. In public statements, Mussolini once again paid tribute to the monarchy and the Catholic Church and, in a conversation with General Pietro Badoglio , ensured the passivity of the army in the event of a fascist takeover of power linked to a demonstrative action by the fasci against Rome. As early as September 20, 1922, in a speech in Udine , he had again committed himself to a liberal economic policy and advocated a break with the state social policy that had been in the making since 1919.

On October 25, Mussolini left the PNF convention, which had started the day before in Naples , and retired to Milan. Although he did not seriously prepare for a violent coup, with which leading squadrists had repeatedly threatened, he had previously agreed to a “staged march” on the capital. This " March on Rome ", which later became the cornerstone of the "fascist revolution" and in which only 5,000 squadristi took part in the pouring rain , began on the morning of October 28th. With the enterprise, Mussolini wanted to force the king to make a decision that he could assume would be in his favor. At that time, Giolitti, Salandra and Orlando, as well as the king, the pope , the army leadership and the business associations, agreed with a fascist prime minister, whom Mussolini had first publicly demanded on October 24th in Naples. On October 29th, Victor Emanuel III. Order Mussolini to Rome by phone, where he arrived the next morning and was sworn in as Prime Minister on October 31st. The fascist “Victory Parade” on October 31, in which Mussolini personally took part, served to simulate a political upheaval. Only then did the “political myth of the forcibly forced overthrow by fascism arise.” The entry of the squadrists into Rome ended with an attack on the working-class district of San Lorenzo , where several people were killed.

Head of government

The years 1922 to 1926

The way to dictatorship

Consolidation of Power

The first Mussolini cabinet was a coalition government of the Italian right. Mussolini was the only leading member of the PNF with ministerial rank (foreign and interior ministers); the fascists Giacomo Acerbo and Aldo Finzi only received state secretariats. Important ministries went to members of the conservative and nationalist establishment ( Giovanni Gentile (education), Luigi Federzoni (colonies), Armando Diaz (war), Paolo Thaon di Revel (navy)). Ministers Alberto De Stefani (Finance), Aldo Oviglio (Justice) and Giovanni Giuriati (Liberated Areas), who came from the same milieu, had already joined the fascist party at this point. With Stefano Cavazzoni (Labor and Social Affairs) the right wing of the Partito Popolare Italiano was also represented in the government; in addition there were representatives of most of the liberal groups. Overall, it was “a conservative ministry that expressed the common will of industry, the monarchy and also the church; it represented an attempt to end the long period of political instability after the war by establishing a stable government that could rely on the broad spectrum of the many factions of the right. "

On November 16, 1922, Mussolini appeared before parliament for the first time as Prime Minister; with the threat of being able to make the house “a bivouac for my squadre ” at any time , he demanded powers of attorney in order to be able to govern by ordinance. Only the representatives of the Socialists and Communists voted on November 24th against the bills that gave the government special powers that were limited to December 31, 1923. Seven Liberal MPs, including Nitti and Giovanni Amendola , stayed away from the vote; however, five former Liberal Prime Ministers - Giolitti, Salandra, Orlando, Bonomi and Facta - voted for the government. In the Senate, the majority of votes for the government was even greater; here Mussolini was openly called upon to establish a dictatorship.

In the winter of 1922/23 there were serious attacks by the squadrists on political opponents, especially in the cities; In Turin , an out of control “fascist firing squad” targeted and murdered socialists, communists and trade unionists without the police - who, as interior minister, was directly subordinate to Mussolini. Instead, thousands of fascists benefited from an amnesty before the end of the year. The transformation of the squadre into a national militia (cf. MVSN ), initiated in December 1922 , in whose ranks numerous squadrists disappointed by the “fascist revolution” received “status, pay and some local power”, was publicized by Mussolini as a measure against the fascist one “Illegalism”. In the same month Mussolini set up the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo , whose relationship to the constitutional institutions was not defined in detail for the time being, a forum for the fascist ras who were not taken into account in the formation of the government . This council was connected to the state executive only through Mussolini's person.

During 1923, the fascist party merged with the other currents of the Italian right. Mussolini's merger with the Associazione Nazionalista Italiana in March became the “watershed for fascism”. With the ANI, numerous equally “respectable” and influential personalities joined the party, who were very well connected in the military, the court, in the bureaucracy, in the diplomatic service and in business and - to mention here in particular Alfredo Rocco - in the following years played a decisive role in the establishment and ideological protection of the fascist regime. The conservative wing of political Catholicism also allied itself with the PNF in 1923. Luigi Sturzo , the leader of the popolari, bowed to pressure from the Vatican in July 1923 and withdrew. In the shadow of this development, Mussolini was largely able to break free of his relative dependence on the old fascists and the ras . The number of members of the PNF rose to 783,000 by the end of 1923 due to the influx of numerous "fascists of the last hour" (fascisti dell'ultima ora) , after having been below 300,000 in October 1922.

The strength of the alliance with the old elites was underlined by the so-called Acerbo Law (legge Acerbo), which was passed in November 1923 with the votes of the liberal parliamentary majority. With this new electoral law, the constituencies were abolished in favor of national lists. It stipulated that the list with a simple majority of the votes cast (at least 25%) should receive two thirds of the seats in parliament. With this “constitutional revolution” the united right believed that it could secure a permanent majority of the seats. The compilation of the listone, the fascist collection list for the April 6, 1924 election, was personally undertaken by Mussolini. In addition to around 200 fascists, almost as many members of other parties and organizations, including Salandra and Orlando, appeared on it. Giolitti came up with his own list, but distanced himself from the anti-fascist opposition. The PPI, which had been withdrawn from the support of the Church, received 9.1% of the vote (39 seats) in the election. The split left hardly played a role in parliament (22 Socialists, 24 Right Socialists , 19 Communists). Mussolini had achieved “the impossible” - “the 'subversives' were now a defeated and meaningless minority.” According to official figures, the fascist listone received 66.3% of the votes cast.

Matteotti crisis
Gabriele Galantara : LUI (German: "ER"). Front cover of the satirical magazine
L'Asino from 1924

The election in April 1924 was no longer free. Apart from the obvious falsifications on election day itself - for example, in parts of the province of Ferrara , a stronghold of the left, supposedly 100% of the voters voted for the listone - the opposition was in an increasingly severe state of semi- legality in advance. Their newspapers have repeatedly been banned or confiscated, and their candidates have been attacked. Fascists devastated the Roman private house of the former Prime Minister Nitti. Violence was mainly used against communists and socialists. Hundreds of people were injured or killed, including a Socialist candidate. Mussolini also directed a group of fascist thugs through his office, led by Albino Volpi and the Italian-American Amerigo Dumini, two “professional gangsters”.

On June 10, 1924, Dumini's people kidnapped and murdered the secretary of the PSU, the reform socialist Giacomo Matteotti . Matteotti, in the presence of Mussolini, revealed numerous irregularities in the April election in the Chamber of Deputies on May 30, unaffected by the staged tumult of Fascist MPs, and demanded that the results be annulled. He was responding to a provocation by Mussolini, who had previously asked the Chamber to approve several thousand laws en bloc. There were also rumors that Matteotti had material with which leading fascists could be convicted of corruption. So far there has been no evidence that Mussolini commissioned the assassination of Matteotti. At the same time, recent research has certainly shown that people close to the head of government - including Rossi, Finzi and Marinelli - prepared the act or knew about the preparations. The impending corruption scandal, which involved bribes from the American oil company Standard Oil , seems to have provided the motive, but not Matteotti's appearance in parliament.

The murder of the opposition politician turned out to be a political catastrophe for Mussolini; Because of his bourgeois origins and his highly moderate socialism, which was oriented towards the British Labor Party , Matteotti, who had been courted by Mussolini up to this point, was considered "respectable" by many liberals. Mussolini was apparently informed of the crime by Dumini on the evening of June 10, but denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of Matteotti in front of parliament the next day, whose body was finally found on August 16 on a Roman road. He instructed his staff to create "as much confusion as possible" on the matter. This turned out to be difficult, as the investigation, based on the identification of the kidnappers' vehicle, led directly to Mussolini's antechamber within a few days. This gave the anti-fascist opposition the unexpected opportunity to deal a severe and possibly decisive blow to the already established regime. Mussolini later admitted that in June 1924 “a few determined men” would have been enough to spark a successful uprising against the completely discredited fascists. After a brief paralysis, however, Mussolini acted decisively. He mobilized the militia, dismissed Emilio De Bono as head of the police, had Dumini, Volpi, Rossi and Marinelli arrested and transferred the Ministry of the Interior to the ex-nationalist Federzoni.

The opposition itself committed the decisive mistake, however. On June 13, socialists, communists and popolari left parliament together with some liberals. This purely demonstrative act had no consequences; on June 18, the communists withdrew from the so-called Aventine bloc after their proposal to proclaim a general strike and to constitute a counter-parliament had been rejected by the other parties. The remaining Aventinians “foolishly trusted that the king would do their job for them.” The “Aventinian secession” turned the Fascist-threatening debate about a political murder in which the head of government was apparently involved into a direct one “Confrontation between fascism and anti-fascism. In this dispute, the Italian elites knew where they stood. ”On June 24, the Senate overwhelmingly expressed its confidence in Mussolini, giving the government the necessary respite. Mussolini's liberal and conservative partisans, headed by the king, continued to support him after a few days of uncertainty. The trend in the Matteotti crisis began to change when the fascist MP Armando Casalini was shot in Rome on September 12, 1924. Radical fascists like Farinacci now demanded Mussolini ever more emphatically to “settle accounts” with anti-fascism and to “shoot a few thousand people”. Mussolini initially evaded these advances.

In December 1924 the crisis came to a head unexpectedly. Press releases linked prominent fascists such as Balbo and Grandi to a variety of acts of violence. Even the first row of the party could no longer be sure that they would not be brought to justice in the near future, as a group of fascist "normalizers" - who seemed to listen to Mussolini's ears - had been separating from the radical and criminal elements for several months demanded. On December 26, however, an opposition newspaper published a leaked memorandum by Cesare Rossi, which also did not link Mussolini with the Matteotti murder, but with similar cases. Now it seemed as if the investigation against the head of government himself could no longer be prevented. In the days that followed the cabinet was on the verge of falling apart; Mussolini was considered "done" by observers. Militia leaders and some ras appeared unannounced in Mussolini's office on December 31, demanding that the opposition be finally silenced. As in 1921, Mussolini was now confronted with an open revolt by fascist extremists (and, as in 1921, Balbo was one of the organizers). On the same day he had the Chamber of Deputies convene on January 3, 1925. In a carefully prepared speech, which is considered to be the most important of his life, Mussolini took on “political, moral and historical responsibility for everything that happened.” With this formulation he reassured the squadrists, but at the same time made it clear in other places that that for him, in the long term, the government, police and prefects represented the legitimate authority, so the opposition had to be suppressed “legally” - this was exactly what “the conservative establishment wanted to hear.” With this appearance, Mussolini succeeded to regain political initiative, to avert the disintegration of the coalition that supported him and to lay the foundations for his personal dictatorship.

Organization of the dictatorship
Benito Mussolini around 1925

In his speech, Mussolini had attacked the Aventine secession as “revolutionary” and announced that he would provide clarification “within 48 hours”. On January 3rd, Mussolini and Federzoni ordered the prefects to stop political gatherings and demonstrations from now on and to take active action against all organizations “undermining the power of the state”. The MPs of the opposition parties were refused to return to the chamber, which until then would have been possible at least theoretically, from that day on. By 1926 all non-fascist parties were banned or dissolved. According to a relevant regulation of January 10, 1925, press censorship was handled even more strictly than before; While the press organs of the political left were gradually pushed underground, the major liberal newspapers fired the few opposition editors in the course of 1925 before a repressive press law came into force in December 1925. In the same month (December 24th) a law on the “Competencies and prerogatives of the head of government” eliminated the government's still formally dependent dependence on parliament. As Capo del Governo , Mussolini now represented the government alone to the king, was solely responsible to him and had the right to decree laws that the MPs could only “discuss” about.

In 1926 the elected municipal councils were abolished; henceforth a mayor ( podestà ) appointed by the prefect led the communities. Until the end of the regime, these “mini-capos” were usually provided by the same local elites who had been in charge of the respective town since the Risorgimento.

The assassination attempt by the anarchist Anteo Zamboni on Mussolini - the first attempt was made by Tito Zaniboni on November 4, 1925 - finally provided the pretext for banning the remaining anti-fascist organizations and their press in November 1926; In the same month, 123 opposition MPs were stripped of their seats, and the Communist MPs, including Antonio Gramsci , were arrested. The "Law for the Defense of the State" (November 25, 1926) introduced the death penalty for "political offenses". It also provided for the creation of a political police force and a special court.

As announced on January 3, 1925, Mussolini established the dictatorship "legally," that is, without replacing the political procedures defined by the constitution with others. The fascist party, led by Farinacci in 1925/26 and engaged in internal disputes, played no active role in this process. The same applies to the militia, whose leadership has now been taken over by former army officers. For real political rule in Fascist Italy, the prefects were even more decisive than in liberal Italy. Mussolini ensured a pronounced structural continuity here. Between 1922 and 1929, 86 prefects were retired or replaced. Their successors were mostly "apolitical" career officials; the 29 prefects that emerged from the PNF were usually given smaller and less important provinces. Mussolini enforced this power structure decisively against opposing tendencies in the fascist party by repeatedly intervening in conflicts between the prefects and the party secretaries of the provinces, for example on January 5, 1927:

“The prefect, I solemnly affirm this, is the highest state authority in the province. He is the direct representative of the central executive, the highest political representative of the fascist regime. "

- Clark : Mussolini

Conflicts of this kind accompanied the regime until 1943. Even in the government, Mussolini only relied to a very limited extent on fascists who had come from the party, often only given state secretariats and rarely remained in office for long. Only Dino Grandi and Giuseppe Bottai managed to stay at the head of the state apparatus on a permanent basis.

In 1925, Mussolini began to accept the term "totalitarian", first used by anti-fascist intellectuals in 1923, as an attribute of the regime. In a speech on the third anniversary of the March on Rome, he defined fascism as a system in which “everything [that happens] happens for the state, nothing is outside the state, nothing and nobody is against the state.” He leaned against the state Formula based on a speech by Justice Minister Alfredo Rocco. The formative ideologues of Italian fascism, whose suggestions Mussolini usually followed, were almost exclusively former nationalists such as Rocco and Giovanni Gentile, who were able to assert their influence in 1925/26 "above all other tendencies within fascism". The “revolutionary” wing of fascism, which was working towards a genuine party dictatorship, was finally ousted by Mussolini in 1926 (Farinacci was replaced on March 30, 1926) and was only able to maintain a few journalistic positions.

Economic and social policy

In the first few years, Mussolini largely left economic policy to his market-liberal finance minister, Alberto De Stefani. The cautious attempts by Nittis and Giolittis in particular to increase the tax burden of the “better circles”, to tax the war profits and to initiate land reform (the so-called Visocchi decree of 1919, repealed in January 1923), were canceled by the new government . It privatized previous state monopolies such as the telephone network, matchstick production and life insurance, lowered government spending and introduced new indirect mass taxes. In March 1923, a decree abolished the eight-hour day, whereby the daily working time was again extended to up to twelve hours, especially in agriculture. Mussolini accompanied this policy by publicly advocating “entrepreneurship”, the reduction of bureaucracy and the abolition of the already rudimentary unemployment benefits. The state should stay out of the economic life of the nation, inequality in society should not be eliminated, but on the contrary should be exacerbated. At the same time, selected industrial companies and banks were reorganized with state funds, including in January 1923 the Banco di Roma, which was closely linked to the Vatican and the Italian dioceses . Mussolini agreed this step personally with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri and was thus able to lay the “atmospheric foundation stone” for the settlement with the Church. For the property bourgeoisie, the years 1922–1925 all in all turned out to be “absolute paradise”. Conversely, workers had to accept real wage cuts of 20 to 25% during this period.

By 1925, however, De Stefani drew opposition from influential interest groups. The free trade policy was rejected by those parts of industry and large estates that suffered from foreign competition and by individual leading fascists who advocated a policy of autarky on principle. Since De Stefani was striving for a balanced budget, he was forced to punish particularly blatant cases of tax evasion in the face of considerable resistance; for the same reason he refused to finance the enormous increase in the number of posts in the state apparatus with which leading fascists and their "clients" could be provided. When there was an economic downturn in the summer of 1925, Mussolini fired De Stefani. His successor Giuseppe Volpi was a representative of the protectionist wing of Italian industry. His appointment coincided with the launch of the regime's first major economic campaign. This "wheat battle" (battaglia del grano) , personally initiated by Mussolini, had the goal of significantly increasing grain production and thus reducing Italy's dependence on food imports (introduction of a grain protection tariff on July 24, 1925). In the background was the problem of the unbalanced Italian balance of payments and the depreciation of the currency; the following year the “wheat battle” turned into the “battle for the lira” (battaglia della lira) .

Foreign policy

When Mussolini took office, Italy , which was “betrayed” according to the fascist interpretation at the Paris Peace Conference, officially became a “revisionist power”, even if this revisionism only began to take shape in 1925/26. In the twenties it was directed primarily against the influence of France in south-eastern Europe (cf. Little Entente ) and secondarily against Greece and Turkey . With this a tendency prevailed under Mussolini which was already not alien to the foreign policy of the liberal governments; the thesis of a breach of foreign policy continuity is largely rejected in recent research - the "alleged contrast between moderate, sensitive diplomats and a hysterical, ultra-nationalist Duce was a myth that officials spread after Mussolini's overthrow in order to evade criticism."

Mussolini introduced himself to the international stage with staged poses. In November 1922 he appeared at the Lausanne conference with a bodyguard of heavily armed black shirts and seemed more interested in martial appearances in front of the journalists than in the negotiations themselves. A month later he traveled to London to take part in the reparations conference there. Here the international press coverage carefully registered by Mussolini was far less beneficial than after Lausanne. With the exception of the Locarno Conference in 1925 , he then refrained from traveling abroad for more than a decade.

In the 1920s, Great Britain appeared internationally as the “protector” of Italy. London saw the country as a counterweight to French hegemony on the continent and a possible resurgence of Germany. Both countries coordinated their appearance on the reparations question and the League of Nations . Mussolini's (initially theoretical) ambitions in the Mediterranean region ( Corsica , Tunisia ) were directed - as in the Balkans - primarily against France, but not against Great Britain, which was ready to make colonial concessions to Italy. In the summer of 1924 the British handed Jubaland over to Italy and in February 1926 the oasis of Jarabub . The visit of the British Foreign Minister Austen Chamberlain , during which his wife demonstratively infected a badge of the fascist party, strengthened Mussolini's back in December 1924 during the Matteotti crisis. Winston Churchill , then Chancellor of the Exchequer , visited Mussolini in January 1927 and then made extremely positive comments about him and the regime. In conservative circles in Great Britain, a real "personality cult" developed around Mussolini in the course of the twenties and early thirties.

On August 31, 1923, in the shadow of the Ruhr crisis , Mussolini had the Greek island of Corfu bombarded and occupied in order to obtain “satisfaction” for the murder of an Italian general on Greek territory (see Corfu crisis ). In January 1924, Yugoslavia recognized the annexation of Fiume by Italy (see Treaty of Rome ). Since 1925, Mussolini was able to eliminate the influence of Yugoslavia in Albania and to bind the country politically and economically closely to Italy (cf. Tiranapakt ). In 1926 Italy began providing financial and material support to Croatian and Macedonian nationalists in order to undermine the Yugoslav state. Albanian separatists in Kosovo also received Italian subsidies with Mussolini's approval.

The results of the Locarno Conference (October 1925) were ambiguous for Italy. Mussolini had not been able to enforce the desired guarantee of the Austro-Italian border and the independence of Austria by Germany in the preliminary negotiations and therefore wanted to stay away from the conference for the time being. Surprisingly, however, Chamberlain invited him to appear together with Great Britain as guarantor of the Franco-German and the Belgian-German border. Great Britain thus officially granted Italy the status of a great power for the first time. Mussolini took the opportunity to make a dramatic appearance; On the last day of the negotiations he surprisingly traveled across Lake Maggiore in a speedboat and a large bodyguard , showed up for a few minutes during the negotiations and drove away again.

The height of the personal dictatorship from 1927 to 1934

Staging and reality of domination

After the fall of Farinacci, who had tolerated a certain amount of discussion among the leading fascists and did not hesitate to portray himself as a purist "antipope", the new party secretary Augusto Turati , a protégé of Mussolini's brother Arnaldo , judged the party between 1926 and 1930 entirely on Mussolini. Turati had 50,000 "extremists" expelled from the party by 1929, around 100,000 other old fascists resigned and were mostly replaced by socially conservative successors - not infrequently long-established notables. In 1926/27 hundreds of thousands of new members joined the PNF; In 1927 for the first time there were more than 1 million organized fascists. Turati, with Mussolini's backing, abolished the internal party elections and had almost all local party newspapers shut down. National party congresses - as last in June 1925 - no longer took place. Although these measures made Mussolini's position unassailable, they withdrew all political substance and dynamism from the (only admitted) party with surprising rapidity: “A bloated, centralized party of careerists and conformists, officials and bank branch managers, leaders installed from above: that was it Opposite of Farinacci's ideal 'Few but good.' ”Another wave of exclusions under Turati's successor Giuriati concluded this process in 1930/31.

The LUCE ( L'unione cinematografica educativa ) institute was founded by the Propaganda Ministry in 1924 and nationalized in 1925. It was systematically concerned with the mystification of the Duce in the medium of film: Mussolini was at the same time “client, object, beneficiary and censor of the LUCE productions”. The propagandistic exaggeration of Mussolini - the ducismo or mussolinismo - also accompanied the restructuring of the party since 1926. Arnaldo Mussolini, editor-in-chief of Popolo d'Italia , and the fascist journalist and politician Giuseppe Bottai set the tone. “Mussolini is always right” (Mussolini ha semper ragione.) Became a common phrase, the dictator himself soon became a “legendary figure” with his superhuman qualities - not only as a statesman, but also as a “aviator, fencer, rider , first sportsman in Italy “- the Italians were already familiarized at school. Millions of photos of Mussolini showing him in one of his characteristic poses (often bare-chested while swimming or harvesting) were distributed in Italy, where many people were already used to collecting images of saints. Rome now housed “an infallible Pope and an infallible Duce .” The basic material for the personality cult was provided by two “official” biographies (by Margherita Sarfatti and Giorgio Pini ), which appeared in 1926 and have been repeatedly reprinted. Mussolini himself occasionally added flattering details to the image drawn in it. He had journalists put into circulation that he worked 18 or 19 hours a day, was content with five hours of sleep and led an average of 25 meetings every day. Often times, these anecdotes contradicted each other because they were each tailored to a different audience. The lack of social change was compensated by this consensus-building myth, "and the greatest myth of all was that of the Duce himself."

Mussolini repeatedly cynically commented on this public staging, which ultimately shaped the traditional image of “his” dictatorship, which after 1931 in the era of party secretary Achille Starace finally lost all reference to reality. Sarfatti's biography, which he personally reviewed and edited prior to publication, proves that "invention is more useful than truth"; His (alleged) first words to the king in October 1922 (“Your Majesty, I bring you the Italy of Vittorio Veneto ”), quoted to the point of excess by the propagandists of the regime , he called in a small circle “the kind of nonsense that one in There are numerous testimonies of his contempt for the “flock”; the masses are "stupid, dirty, do not work hard enough and are satisfied with their little movies." He also made cynical comments on intellectuals who were concerned with the codification of a somewhat consistent fascist "doctrine" - which did not prevent him from In 1932 the most authoritative advance in this direction, the article written mainly by Giovanni Gentile on the dottrina del fascismo in the fourteenth volume of the Enciclopedia Italiana , to pass as his work by drawing by name. In view of such and similar contradictions, the British historian Denis Mack Smith places the “real” Mussolini next to the “actor” who was primarily the public duce :

“He was not just a loner, but a misanthrope with a horrific view of human nature that disparaged charity and idealism. He assumed that everyone was utterly selfish and implausible - another point on which he agreed with Machiavelli , the grand master of politics and 'perhaps the greatest of all Italian philosophers', even though he thought that Machiavelli didn't go far with his contempt for humanity enough had gone. "

At its core, however, Mussolini's central position was not a propagandistic fiction. The entire activity of the government depended to a steadily increasing extent on his decisions and his presence - to the point that the work of the ministries he did not head (in 1929 Mussolini was eight times minister for some time) came to a standstill when he did wasn't in Rome. Unlike Hitler , for example , Mussolini was actually a disciplined bureaucrat and “file eater”. He usually sat around 8 or 9 a.m. behind his desk in the sala del mappamondo in the Palazzo Venezia (until 1929 in the Palazzo Chigi ) and worked there alone for about 10 hours or received visitors - the first almost every day Arturo Bocchini , the police chief , whom some historians believe hold the real “second man” of the regime. Mussolini was able to claim with a certain plausibility, undoubtedly exaggerating in detail, that he had personally processed almost 1.9 million bureaucratic cases in seven years. In order to create the impression that he really controls “the life of the nation”, the dictator decided on innumerable trivial details, such as the number of buttons on a uniform, a setting at the police school, the pruning of a tree in a certain street in Piacenza and that Playing time of the orchestra on the Lido . In the process, he could - and, apart from the censorship measures and journalistic language regulations imposed by him, not even attempt - systematically check whether his decisions were being implemented due to the lack of a suitable apparatus. As a rule, a comment thrown by Mussolini or his characteristic paraphe “M” marked either the end of government activity or the beginning of an open-ended “interpretation” of his will by the bureaucracy. Mussolini hardly ever dealt with the concrete implementation of a “decision” in practical action. His inclination to receive ministers, assistants and officials individually in fifteen-minute "audiences", generally confirming their views and dismissing them without practical instructions, ensured that "there was no government activity in many important areas."

Typical speaker gesture by Mussolini (Milan, 1930)

He weaned the frequently changing ministers and state secretaries from any sense of responsibility and initiative; He considered most of them to be "depraved to the core" anyway. In fact, Mussolini was one of the very few leading fascists who did not use their offices to illegally enrich themselves and to promote the advancement of their families or their clients. Nonetheless, it was not without reason that he was said to have promoted downright incompetent civil servants, corrupt gerarchi and post hunters, but purposefully put aside independent minds inclined to contradict themselves. This tendency took hold in the first half of the 1930s, when the quality of the leadership in the state and the party deteriorated drastically as a result of a series of layoffs and transfers. Their most prominent "victims" were Balbo (as governor to Libya), Grandi (as ambassador to London), Turati (as editor to Turin) and Mussolini's old companion Leandro Arpinati . The ras of Bologna and closest collaborator of Mussolini in the Interior Ministry was dismissed in 1933 from all offices, in 1934 expelled from the party and to the Aeolian Islands banned. In addition, in December 1931, Mussolini's brother Arnaldo, the only confidante and counselor who was allowed to speak “openly” with the Duce, died unexpectedly . After the cabinet reshuffles in 1932 and 1933, most of the leading men in the ministries were "media criticisms" who either did not have their own judgment or kept it to themselves.

Mussolini went in the last resort always concerned that he - decided, however, only partly about - often with spectacular gestures and interventions in other areas of responsibility what was decided. He consistently avoided discussions, including those in small groups, usually by agreeing to what was presented or presented to him. In the ministerial bureaucracy and among informed observers, he soon acquired the reputation of a "cardboard lion" who always represented the opinion of the person with whom he had last spoken.

The corporate state

In January 1927, the leadership of the Confederazione Generale del Lavoro dissolved the union federation, despite protests from many members and officials. From then on, the Catholic lay organization Azione Cattolica was the only mass organization that was not directly linked to the fascist regime.

The disappearance of the workers 'parties and the socialist unions - propagandist in particular exploited the collapse of the railway workers' union, which "was to the fascists what the National Union of Mineworkers was later to Margaret Thatcher " - paved the way for the fascist attempt at wage earners To record population in organizations controlled by the state or the state party. A first step in this direction was the leisure organization OND , which was founded in the spring of 1925. The idea of ​​grouping workers, salaried employees and entrepreneurs from individual branches of the economy in corporations to represent their “common” interests first emerged from individual nationalist ideologues and then from Alceste De Ambris and D'Annunzio in Fiume. These corporations should - at least in theory - prevent labor disputes and thus maximize economic output. Since 1925, first with Alfredo Rocco, there was talk of making corporations the central instrument of the political, social and economic control of society by the state. Mussolini took up Rocco's advance and declared it - three years after the March on Rome - the "fundamental program of our party". Since 1925/26, the “corporative state” became the regime's much-received propaganda figurehead, first in Italy and then above all abroad.

At that time, however, the fascist party had already founded its own trade unions, which, after a series of symbolic strikes in October 1925, had been recognized by the industrialists as "exclusive" representatives of the workforce (and, characteristically, immediately accepted that the elected works councils would be abolished without replacement). This agreement, signed in the presence of Mussolini, was confirmed in April 1926 by a law drawn up by Rocco, which now expressly forbade strikes (including the unions in urban and state-owned companies) and stipulated a compulsory arbitration procedure in all conflicts. Mussolini declared the class struggle to be over and from then on the “impartial” state would regulate the balance of interests. Nonetheless, the regime was never able to completely prevent “wild” strikes. The press was forbidden to report on them; The same was true of the unrest among farm workers, which was relatively frequent, especially in the south, until the first half of the 1930s.

A little later, in July 1926, a corporation ministry was established, but the establishment of the corporate system stalled. In 1929 not a single corporation existed. Although the Carta del Lavoro proclaimed the corporate concept as the cornerstone of the “fascist revolution” in April 1927 with enormous propaganda expenditure, only an inflated bureaucracy flourished in the environment of the corporation ministry, the social function of which was the provision of posts for the “intellectual proletariat” viewed with suspicion by Mussolini; the corporate idea itself quickly became a "hunting ground for hundreds of job-seeking academics who endlessly discussed its theory and practice." Conversely, the fascist unions, much like the party, were "cleansed" of unruly functionaries and members by the end of the twenties and disciplined by leaders appointed from above (while the internal autonomy of the employers' organizations had not been touched by the regime). In November 1928 Mussolini had the trade union federation, the domain of the fascist “labor leader” Edmondo Rossoni , split up into six unaffiliated industrial associations. After Giuseppe Bottai took over the corporation ministry in 1929, 22 corporations (grain, textiles, etc.) were finally founded by 1934, but the reliably controlled fascist unions and the employers' associations were not dissolved. The National Council of Corporations, founded in 1930, met only five times. The corporations, in which mostly lawyers, journalists and fascist party functionaries “represented” the workers, never actually took over the sovereign tasks assigned to them ten years earlier by Rocco and remained essentially “little more than an unrealized idea”.

The new electoral law passed in 1928 had at least corporatist features. For the new Chamber of Deputies to be "elected" in March 1929, the fascist Grand Council, which for the first time performed the sovereign tasks assigned to it by law in December 1928, under the chairmanship of Mussolini, compiled a single list of 400 candidates (for 400 seats) who were the fascist ones The unions, the employers' organizations, the war veterans and other associations had proposed. Here, too, it was characteristic that 125 representatives of the employers, but only 89 of the trade unions, finally sat in this de facto appointed parliament.

Fascist economic and social policy

Even in the years before the global economic crisis, the fascist state accelerated its economic activity. Giuseppe Volpi has been pursuing a consistent deflation policy since 1925, which primarily weighed on the already sharply lower wages. In negotiations he was able to secure a reduction in Italy's war debts in Great Britain and the United States and a significant loan from the JP Morgan Bank . Since the value of the lira continued to fall, but the bulk of the Italian debt had to be repaid in foreign currency, Mussolini - who also saw the exchange rate as a question of “national prestige” - decided in August 1926 to intervene with publicity (“Battle for the lira ”). In December 1927 he ordered the introduction of the gold standard and a fixed exchange rate of the lira to the pound (1 pound = 92.46 lire) and the dollar . It triggered a plunge in stock prices while unemployment, production and living costs rose sharply. After large companies such as Fiat protested against this measure, Mussolini conceded tax breaks and a further 10% reduction in wages to the export industry, but maintained the quota novanta for several years .

The appreciation of the currency also really got the “wheat battle” going, which remained a constant topic of propaganda until the first half of the 1930s. In this context, the regime put one of its largest projects, the drainage of the Pontine Marshes , which began in 1930. In other parts of the country, too, considerable funds were used for drainage, irrigation, afforestation and other essential rural infrastructure under the catchphrase of the bonifica integrale, with sometimes considerable successes, which Mussolini, who repeatedly showed himself on site, knew how to use for himself. Grain production rose sharply at least until 1933, which noticeably relieved the foreign trade balance, but in terms of domestic economics it turned out to be a gigantic subsidy program for the large landowners. The profit margin for grain guaranteed by the protective tariff and the overvalued currency did not decrease during the years of the global economic crisis in Italy, despite falling consumption. This aggravated the modernization backlog in agriculture and led in many areas to an agricultural monoculture, combined with a decline in livestock and the loss of export markets, for example for olive oil, wine and citrus fruits.

According to official figures, around 1.2 million people were unemployed in Italy at the height of the global economic crisis. It turned out to be a “lucky” coincidence that imports and consumption had already been massively restricted in the previous years. Mussolini even managed to adhere to the gold standard until 1936, as a result of which the lira appreciated again by a third against the pound, since Great Britain had abandoned the gold standard in 1931. The main problem of the regime was the almost completely insolvent private banking sector, which threatened to tear the Banca d'Italia, which was already heavily involved in it, and thus the state into the abyss. In 1931, at the suggestion of Finance Minister Guido Jung , Mussolini founded the Istituto Mobiliare Italiano (IMI), which ousted private banks from medium- and long-term industrial financing, but at the same time bought them at their nominal value the shares and loans that had been devalued during the crisis. The Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), founded in 1933 , issued state loan guarantees and bought troubled companies in the manufacturing sector. It soon held around 20% of all Italian share capital, which was unprecedented in interwar Europe. A state-controlled financial and industrial conglomerate emerged here, as it were “unintentionally”, which outlived fascism and was only liquidated at the beginning of the 21st century after an eventful development. The "welfare state" elements, which were introduced as part of the fight against the crisis by 1934 (active state employment promotion, increase in unemployment benefits, 40-hour week in industry, health insurance, paid leave) were also not planned in the long term.

Between August 1933 and April 1934, the test-tube town of Sabaudia , which now has around 20,000 inhabitants, was built in just thirteen months after Benito Mussolini had the Paludi Pontine , the marshland south-east of Rome, drained.

The south and the "battle against the mafia"

The fascists could barely gain a foothold in Sicily until 1922. With the Partito agrario of Prince Scalea , the large landowners already had a political organization on the island that was able to oppose the wave of strikes and land occupations that began in 1919, mainly carried out by farmers and agricultural workers who had been dismissed from the military. necessary degree of brutality and illegality ”. In 1922 a Sicilian liberal received the Ministry of Public Works in Mussolini's first government and in 1923 he joined the PNF. By 1924 the leadership of the Partito agrario was absorbed by the fascist party. Within the Sicilian PNF, by 1927 at the latest, the old elites were able to assert themselves against the fascists "imported" from the north or native, but not integrated into the island's client networks. This ensured that the social and economic structure of Sicily was not affected.

This fundamental directional decision, which followed the developments in the rest of the country with a time lag, also relativized the fascist measures against the mafia , which were often benevolently commented on up to the present day , especially between 1924 and 1929 in the era of Mussolini's " iron prefect “ Cesare Mori (1924 prefect of Trapani , 1925 of Palermo ) were forced. Mori, who had excellent relations with the latifondisti , took action not only against actual mafiosi, until then often supported by the rural aristocracy, but also against left-wing activists and radical fascists such as Alfredo Cucco, who between 1922 and 1924 had his own with Farinacci's backing "War against the Mafia", which "incidentally" also included anti-fascists and the networks of the local aristocracy. In 1927 Cucco himself was accused of being a mafioso and politically eliminated along with the entire fascist party organization in Palermo. A total of around 11,000 actual or alleged Mafiosi were arrested (but mostly released again soon), and many leaders emigrated, mostly to the United States. The fascist campaign against the mafia strengthened the social and political supremacy of the large landowners - for Mori the real "victims" of the mafia - and despite short-term successes created the climate for the renaissance of organized crime after 1943. She had it with particular severity "Newly rich" middle peasants met who were a thorn in the side of the latifundists. It was precisely this group who cultivated the view under fascism "that in this type of society the only chance lay in ruthless enforcement of one's own will and in powerful protectors."

Mussolini exploited the “battle against the mafia” for propaganda purposes, but, contrary to a persistent legend, was not particularly interested in the problems of Sicily or the Italian south - overall, probably far less than the prime ministers before him. Nevertheless, after a few years, he had it declared that the fascist regime had solved the “southern question” and had also “destroyed” the mafia. In reality, despite a nominal increase in public investment and, at least in the 1920s, more careful monitoring of the collection and use of taxes, little has been done for the island's development. While in Libya, for example, considerable funds were used to develop the infrastructure, many Sicilian villages were still not connected to the rail network in the 1940s and often not even to the road network. When Mussolini visited Sicily for the first time in June 1923, he described it as a “dishonor for humanity” that fifteen years after the Messina earthquake numerous residents were still vegetating in self-built huts and promised to remedy the situation immediately: “But the slums were still there twenty years later, and the 'southern problem', despite repeated claims that it no longer existed, was no closer to a solution. ”A planned city for 10,000 people founded in May 1924 with a great deal of propaganda in the presence of Mussolini (Mussolinia, today as Santo Pietro a district of the city of Caltagirone ) remained a hamlet with barely 100 inhabitants. It was only towards the end of the 1930s that Mussolini publicly addressed the latifondi as the real cause of the development blockade in Sicily. A land reform law passed in 1940, which in a certain sense represented a strategic turnaround in fascist policy, was no longer implemented because of the outbreak of war.

Compensation with the Church

The Lateran Treaties signed by Mussolini and Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri on February 11, 1929 after more than two years of secret negotiations in which less than a dozen people were privy to, are considered Mussolini's greatest political success. They were used to clarify questions that had been disputed between the Italian nation state and the head of the Catholic Church since the Risorgimento and that had not been resolved by any of the liberal governments. Mussolini had personally intervened in the negotiations in the last stages and had to overcome the resistance of the king, who had been brought up to be an opponent of the church and initially strictly refused to allow the Pope a say in the internal affairs of Italy, let alone territory in the middle of Rome cede. The announcement of the negotiation results by Gasparri on February 7, 1929 was a worldwide sensation.

Italy ceded 44 hectares of its national territory to the Pope, who again became head of a sovereign state. As “compensation” for the loss of the Papal States in 1870, the Vatican received a cash payment of 750 million lire and a loan of another billion. In return, the Pope declared the “Roman question” to be “finally and irrevocably settled”. In the Concordat, the Italian state recognized Catholicism as the "only religion of the state" and in this context a substantial and institutionalized influence of the church on marriage, family and school. With the Azione Cattolica , the state also accepted the work of the Catholic youth organizations, which in 1930 had around 700,000 members.

The Lateran Treaties stabilized the fascist regime extraordinarily, although relations between church and state did not develop harmoniously until 1931. Pope Pius XI On February 14, 1929, Mussolini called in a much-quoted phrase the man “whom Providence has sent us”, ordered all priests at the end of the daily mass to pray for the king and the Duce (“Pro Rege et Duce”), and received him personally three years later.

Foreign policy

Tensions with France and Yugoslavia

The classification of Mussolini's foreign policy line is still controversial. Some of the more recent works make a strict distinction between the words and deeds of the dictator. The older “intentionalist” thesis that Mussolini took the propaganda formulas about the “new Roman Empire” seriously and that Italian foreign policy - with the ultimate goal of armed conflict with France and Great Britain over control of the Mediterranean - was “ideologically” oriented after 1926 , rejected as "almost absurd". The most prominent critic of the intentionalists is the Australian historian Richard Bosworth, who classifies the goals and means of Mussolini's foreign policy in a continuity of the "myths of the Risorgimento" and denies that there is anything like a genuine "fascist" one that can be distinguished from the "traditional" Imperialism. The directly opposite position is largely represented by the American historian MacGregor Knox, who, according to his reading, derives the regime's “revolutionary” foreign policy entirely from the “will” of the dictator, whose program had already been fixed in all essentials in the mid-1920s; Like older Italian historians, including Gaetano Salvemini , Knox assumes that there is a breach of continuity in foreign policy. Following the work of Renzo De Felice, a “dominant nationalist school of thought” today in Italy takes a third position, which, with a not infrequently justifying undertone, describes the foreign politician Mussolini primarily as a “real politician”.

In April 1927 Italy signed a friendship treaty with Hungary , the country most interested in revising the peace treaty. Italy supplied arms to Hungary and began training Hungarian officers and pilots, despite the fact that the Treaty of Trianon imposed arms restrictions similar to Germany's on Hungary . Paris and Belgrade responded with a bilateral assistance treaty in December 1927. At this point, Mussolini had already started promoting the leader of the Croatian fascist Ustasha movement, Ante Pavelić . A camouflaged training center was built near Parma , where its supporters were given political and military training. The European foreign ministries soon knew that Mussolini was supporting the Croatian fascists who carried out attacks in Yugoslavia. After the proclamation of the republic in Spain (April 1931), Italy supported individual protagonists of the anti-republican right.

Mussolini was not prepared to accept that a politically active community of anti-fascist emigrants was established in France; In 1929 this question led to two serious diplomatic crises. To sign the Briand-Kellogg Pact in August 1928, Mussolini demonstratively sent only the Italian ambassador, while other signatory states were represented by their foreign ministers. At the London Fleet Conference in 1930 France rejected the fleet parity required by Italy because it had not received any territorial guarantees ("Mediterranean Locarno"). Neither Britain nor the United States was ready for that.

The minority issue was another source of constant foreign policy entanglements. Mussolini was determined to eradicate the "ethnic remnants" in Italy (cf. Italianization ) and even authorized comparable measures in the Dodecanese , where the fascist regime introduced Italian as the school language and banned all Greek newspapers. This did not stop him from complaining in Paris about the treatment of the Italian community in Tunis and in London about the suppression of the Italian language in Malta .

Germany's gain in influence, which began to emerge from 1931, temporarily led to a certain rapprochement between Paris and Rome. In March 1931, France issued a joint declaration granting Italy maritime parity. Both countries took action against the plan for a German-Austrian customs union , which had become known in the same month. A real "entente", which the Herriot government at least considered in 1932, was rejected by Mussolini - unlike the thoroughly Francophobic Grandi, who nevertheless assessed the growing Germany as the greatest threat to Italy's position. In July 1932 Mussolini dismissed Grandi and took over the Foreign Ministry himself.

Mussolini and the rise of the NSDAP
Mussolini and Hitler in Berlin in 1937

The development of the anti-democratic right in Germany was closely watched by the Italian fascists. In addition to the reports from the Italian embassy, ​​Mussolini had a large number of other excellent sources of information, among which Giuseppe Renzetti stands out, the founder of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Berlin and “shadow ambassador ” of the Duce . In the course of the twenties, Renzetti succeeded in establishing direct personal relationships with the leaders of the DNVP , the Stahlhelm , the NSDAP, as well as with influential conservative journalists and industrialists. He was received by Mussolini for a personal interview for the first time on October 16, 1930 and commissioned to keep in touch with Hitler and Göring on behalf of Mussolini. On April 24, 1931, Mussolini received Hermann Göring, the first leading National Socialist, in "audience".

The attempts at contact between the leadership of the NSDAP and Mussolini were older, but very one-sided until the party's electoral success in September 1930 . As early as November 1922, Mussolini had received a report from the Italian diplomat Adolfo Tedaldi, in which the latter referred to Hitler, the "leader of the fascists" in Bavaria. This advocates a German-Italian alliance and recognizes the Italian position on the South Tyrolean question. Apparently Hitler tried unsuccessfully in 1922 and 1923 to establish contact with Mussolini, whom he admired , through Kurt Lüdecke . Similar advances were rejected by Mussolini in 1927 and again in 1930, although until then he had repeatedly been presented with benevolent reports from Italians who had met Hitler. The Mussolini biographer Renzo De Felice nevertheless considers it possible that the NSDAP received irregular money from a fund of the Italian consulate in Munich during this phase.

Like the other leading fascists, Mussolini fundamentally mistrusted all representatives of “revanchist” and “pan-German” nationalism north of the Alps. With his recognition of the annexation of South Tyrol by Italy, Hitler was an almost unique figure on the German right, but represented one with the independence of Austria - where Mussolini had been supporting the Home Guard movement with money and weapons since 1927 and the policy of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss since 1932 - Incompatible “Greater German” program, which Mussolini's Gerarchia magazine warned in September 1930.

The aggressive anti-Semitism and ethnic racism of the Nazis also caused problems for Mussolini personally - even if this question was never in the foreground of his considerations. In an interview with the Heimwehr leader Starhemberg , he admitted that he was not a “special friend of the Jews”, but that Nazi anti-Semitism was “unworthy of a European nation”. Mussolini shared the devaluations of non-Europeans and Slavs common to the Italian elite (“Democracy for Slavs is like alcohol for blacks.”), But also sharply rejected biologically based racism, at least until 1934. The concept of a nation based on “blood” as a “community of descent”, which had been common property in the ideologies of the German right since the First World War, remained alien to Mussolini throughout his life. His racism was "voluntaristic" - for Mussolini, Italian was who he could attribute to a certain variety of social, cultural and political "civilization". Among his few real convictions was the view that parts of the Italian people were not (yet) part of the “nation”: Florentines were troublemakers, Neapolitans useless and disciplined, etc. In contrast, the Italian Jews had proven themselves as citizens and soldiers. At the same time, Mussolini tolerated an anti-Semitic current of fascism that had gathered around the magazine La Vita Italiana and its editor Giovanni Preziosi . In the spring of 1933, he called for the fascists in Popolo d'Italia on the boycott of the Jews to regard the Nazis in the "context" and also not to "moralize".

On January 30, 1933, Hitler sent Mussolini a telegram in which he once again expressed his personal appreciation for the Duce . Mussolini, for his part, believed until 1934 that he could personally adopt a patronizing, patronage-simulating attitude towards Hitler. So in the spring of 1933 he gave him the “advice” in writing to give up anti-Semitism (which “always had a little bit of the aroma of the Middle Ages”). Also the first meeting of the two dictators on 14./15. In June 1934 Mussolini staged with this intention. Hitler had asked for an informal meeting and had traveled to Venice as a “private man” like a “plumber in a raincoat” (Mussolini) , but was surprised by Mussolini with a large press presence and a pompous reception that was primarily intended to make “an impression” ( but failed to achieve this through a series of bad planning and mishaps). Both spoke alone in German several times, which certainly overwhelmed Mussolini. Even at this first meeting, Hitler irritated Mussolini with endless monologues; Nevertheless, Mussolini was apparently convinced that he had talked Hitler out of hoping for an "Anschluss" with Austria, while Hitler left Italy with the impression that Mussolini had no objections to an Austrian government led by the NSDAP.

In diplomatic terms, Mussolini initially sought to bring German revisionism under control with a four-power pact that he had proposed in October 1932. Representatives from France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy signed it in Rome in July 1933. The treaty became obsolete before it was ratified when Germany left the League of Nations. At the same time, Mussolini tried to consolidate the Italian position through a series of diplomatic maneuvers, all of which were essentially directed against Germany; The treaty of friendship and non-aggression with the Soviet Union (September 2, 1933) and the agreements with Hungary and Austria of March 1934 (cf. Roman Protocols ) belong to this series . Hastily drafted plans for an Italian-controlled pact system in south-east Europe, which was to include Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, failed because of French resistance, the extremely poor Italian-Yugoslav and Italian-Greek relations and Hungary's refusal to accept his To moderate anti-Yugoslav attitudes.

Colonial policy

During the First World War, Italy's grip on its colonial possessions was greatly loosened. In Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (both areas were only administratively united as Libia in 1934 ) it controlled only the larger cities on the coast in 1919. When Mussolini became Prime Minister, the colonial administration had already begun the so-called riconquista of the hinterland. The planning for this was largely driven by Giuseppe Volpi (1921 to 1925 governor of Tripolitania) and Giovanni Amendola (colonial minister between February and October 1922 and a few years later “martyrs” of liberal anti-fascism). While the "pacification" of Tripolitania was completed relatively quickly under the military direction of Rodolfo Graziani , it dragged on in Cyrenaica until 1932/33. A third of the population fell victim to a policy that the Italian historian Angelo Del Boca has attested to as "the nature and extent of a real genocide". In order to secure the fertile soil for agricultural use by Italian settlers and to create a reserve of cheap and permanently available labor, the Italian army (which relied largely on East African mercenaries) systematically destroyed the society of the semi-nomadic cattle herders of the Gebel el since 1930 -Achdar . The livestock was almost completely destroyed, around 100,000 people were held in concentration camps on the coast, where half of them died - mostly from starvation - until the camps were closed in 1933. Chemical weapons were repeatedly used in air strikes , even though Italy was a signatory to the Geneva Protocol in June 1925 .

Mussolini played a rather ambiguous role in this context. He was ready at any time to authorize the most brutal measures or to approve them retrospectively, but at no point took the initiative, which clearly belonged to Badoglio (since 1929 governor of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica), Graziani and others. The large-scale, compensation-free land expropriations, the rigorous tax system and the social and spatial separation of the European, Jewish and Arab residents were largely designed by Volpi. Mussolini allowed critics of "pacification" such as De Bono (who headed the Colonial Ministry from 1929 to 1935) and Roberto Cantalupo , both of whom were based on an alliance directed against Great Britain and France with Arab nationalism, to work. Their position seems to have been in line with his intentions. When Mussolini visited the North African colony for the first time in April 1926, he presented himself as a “defender of Islam”. In 1929 he instructed Badoglio to negotiate a (short-lived) armistice with the rebel leader Umar al-Muchtar . He liked himself in the pose of a benevolent protector on his second visit in March 1937, when he was presented with the “ sword of Islam ” by local dignitaries in Tripoli . Although the “empire” became a central element of fascist propaganda in the course of the 1930s, Mussolini seems to have had no clear idea of ​​the political, military or economic benefits that could be drawn from the colonies. Recent research has indicated that the conquest of Ethiopia took place without Mussolini "even the faintest idea had what was to be done with this great increase in territory and people." After he replaced in 1937 Graziani in December and the Duke of Aosta for Having appointed Viceroy of Ethiopia, he left the colonial administration there, shattered by corruption and clique struggles, to itself. Libya was also a losing business (despite clear indications of their existence, the colonial administration "stubbornly" ignored the large oil reserves until the end), and It was not until the second half of the 1930s that a significant number of Italian emigrants were admitted - one of the most important functions of the colonies according to the fascist interpretation.

The details of the "pacification" in Libya (and after 1936 in Ethiopia) remained unknown in Italy for a long time. It is only in the last few decades that the work of the historians Giorgio Rochat and Angelo Del Boca has brought them more into focus. Dealing with this past is particularly prone to conflict because it is more part of a “national” than a “fascist” colonial history. As early as 1914/15, around 10,000 Libyans had died in the suppression of an uprising. Soon after their arrival, the colonial power took systematic action against the cattle breeders of Cyrenaica , and nationalist intellectuals were already thinking openly about the “advantages” of displacing or exterminating the native population before the First World War. The Italian Ministry of Defense only officially approved the use of chemical weapons in the colonies in the mid-1990s.

War and expansion course 1935–1939

Justification of the Impero

Hitler's visit to Venice was followed by a dramatic deterioration in German-Italian relations. On 25 July 1934, took Austrian Nazis attempted a coup in which the protege of Mussolini Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss was killed (see. July Putsch ). His family was on vacation with the Mussolini in Riccione , and Mussolini personally brought the news of her husband's death to Dollfuss' wife. In addition to the direct threat to vital Italian interests through the open and violent questioning of Austria's independence, Mussolini felt this constellation in particular as a personal insult by Hitler. He deployed four fully mobilized divisions on the Brenner Pass , initiated an anti-German press campaign that lasted until 1935, and now also launched violent public attacks against Nazi ideology.

Mussolini's criticism of the expansive German nationalism and Nazi “terrorism” in Austria was, however, not a question of principle for him, but a revisable position derived from the interests of the Italian national state. In the zones of influence he claimed, it was precisely in this phase that he relied on comparable means of violent destabilization. On October 9, 1934 in a camp of the murdered Ustasha trained assassin in Italy the Yugoslav King Alexander I and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou in Marseilles . Mussolini rejected the extradition of Pavelić and other Croatian fascists demanded by France . In the same year he conferred with Spanish officers and monarchists and promised them weapons and money, after he had already supported the failed coup of General José Sanjurjo in August 1932 in a similar way.

The "Anschluss crisis" of 1934 initially led to a further rapprochement between Italy, France and Great Britain. In October 1934 Robert Vansittart , the highest official in the British Foreign Office, traveled to Rome and assured Mussolini that Great Britain would back the Austrian question. In January 1935, Mussolini and the new French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval signed a series of agreements (the so-called Laval-Mussolini Pact ), which provided for consultations on all issues affecting Austria and Germany as well as the inclusion of general staff meetings. France also ceded 110,000 square kilometers of French Equatorial Africa and 20,000 square kilometers of French Somaliland to Italy, which in turn renounced claims in Tunisia that had been made since the 19th century. Laval also stated - but only unofficially - that France, which controlled the railway line from Djibouti to Addis Ababa , was withdrawing from all further claims in Ethiopia (désistement) .

On December 30, 1934, Mussolini had ordered the Italian General Staff to prepare for war against Ethiopia; The reason for this was a serious border incident in which two Italians (and around 100 Ethiopians) were killed on December 5th. Mussolini saw in Ethiopia, which had fended off an Italian attack in 1896 and had been a member of the League of Nations since 1923 , the "price" that Italy could ask for its "constructive" policy in Europe. When he met Laval, Flandin , Simon and MacDonald in Stresa in April 1935 and signed a declaration in which the three powers emphasized their determination to defend the borders in Central Europe created by the peace treaties (see Stresa Declaration ), he made an effort to find out the British position on this matter. He interpreted the indifference of the British as consent. Mussolini's way of thinking and tactics were anything but innovative or genuinely “fascist”, but followed a pattern of Italian foreign policy that had been established in the 19th century. Most recently, 25 years earlier, the liberal Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti had used the favorable situation created by the tensions between the stronger European powers to wage war against Turkey . On closer inspection, "the Italian War of 1935/36 has quite a lot in common with the Italian War of 1911/12."

Stresa paved the way for a “diplomatic catastrophe”, as Mussolini was not interested or willing to “compensate Italy for the defense of Austria's colonial colonial independence” for the influence of the political forces in Great Britain who wanted to come to a long-term understanding with Germany “, Totally underrated. Mussolini also did not take into account Anthony Eden's group , which in Europe continued to rely on the mechanisms of the League of Nations and in 1935 had public opinion in Great Britain on their side. Politicians like Churchill, Vansittart and Austen Chamberlain, who were quite ready to give Italy a free hand in East Africa, had lost all or part of their influence in 1935. This became evident with the German-British naval agreement , which actually canceled the Stresa Declaration after only two months (June 1935). The fact that the British moved part of the Home Fleet to the Mediterranean shortly afterwards came as a shock to Mussolini. For his “realistic” understanding of the world, the sudden “anti-colonial sermons by people who controlled half of Africa themselves and who had certainly not acquired it peacefully” were incomprehensible. ”Despite the concerns of his military, he allowed the march into Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to continue rejected the mediation proposals launched through various channels. A tense meeting with Eden in June ended without result. Mussolini, who had demanded the cession of all Ethiopian territories outside the Amharic heartland and an Italian protectorate over the remainder, angrily broke off the meeting when Eden offered him "another desert", the Ogaden .

On October 3, 1935, Italian troops crossed the Ethiopian border from Eritrea (see Italian-Ethiopian War ). Six days later, the League of Nations (against Italy's vote and Austria, Hungary and Albania abstaining) formally declared Italy the aggressor, and economic sanctions came into force in mid-November. In addition to financial restrictions, the League of Nations blocked a number of goods from trade with Italy. However, the oil embargo, which all observers viewed as potentially drastic, did not materialize. A British-French mediation proposal (cf. Hoare-Laval Pact ), which was very accommodating to Italy and would probably have been accepted by Mussolini, leaked to the press early on and was rejected in the British Parliament in December 1935. Mussolini, who had replaced the incompetent De Bono with Badoglio after the first setbacks in November, now ordered an advance on Addis Ababa and the transfer of further forces and resources to East Africa. When the offensive began on January 20, 1936, between 350,000 and 400,000 men with 30,000 vehicles and 250 aircraft had deployed - the largest army ever assembled in a colonial war. On Badoglio's initiative - and authorized by Mussolini - the Italian army now also used poison gas. Aircraft dropped about 250 tons of mustard gas bombs by the end of the war . On May 5, 1936, Italian troops entered Addis Ababa.

Mussolini announced on May 9, 1936 in Rome in front of an enthusiastic crowd the annexation of Ethiopia and "the return of the empire to the holy hills of Rome." Victor Emanuel III. assumed the title of emperor of Ethiopia. Even if Renzo De Felice's affirmative characterization of the Ethiopian war as a “political masterpiece” (capolavoro politico) of Mussolini and the related thesis of a “consensus” between the “Italian people” and the regime is highly controversial, there is little doubt that the regime is reached the peak of internal stability in 1935 and 1936; active and conscious anti-fascism in Italy was limited to a few isolated circles during this phase. In July 1936, the League of Nations lifted economic sanctions. In western foreign countries, however, the war completely reversed the image of Italian fascism. He ended the “love affair between the foreign journalists and Mussolini” and gave the Italian dictator a long-term effective image as a “gangster” and “unshaven hooligan”, especially in the conservative British press that up until that point had been rather sympathetic to him.

Alliance with Germany

From the "axis" to the "connection"
Benito Mussolini and Galeazzo Ciano , March 1938
Order of additional public holidays on the occasion of Mussolini's visit to Berlin and Munich by law of September 23, 1937

Mussolini took the first steps to improve German-Italian relations before the start of the Ethiopian War. A few months later, on January 6, 1936, after the failure of the Hoare-Laval Pact and the collapse of the " Stresa Front ", Mussolini informed the surprised German ambassador Ulrich von Hassell that Italy had nothing against expanding German influence Austria will undertake as long as the country remains formally independent (see July Agreement ). In February he indicated - also to von Hassell - that Italy would tolerate a remilitarization of the Rhineland and thus informally resigned from the commitments entered into in Locarno in 1925. In June 1936, Mussolini dismissed the "Germanophobic" Trieste Fulvio Suvich , who until then had headed the Foreign Ministry as State Secretary. Mussolini's 33-year-old son-in-law Galeazzo Ciano , who was one of the enthusiastic advocates of rapprochement with Germany at the time , became foreign minister .

The civil war in Spain accelerated the further deepening of relations. Hitler and Mussolini had initially decided independently of one another to intervene in Spain in favor of the putschists (see Corpo Truppe Volontarie ) - Mussolini, however, only after a long hesitation on July 27, 1936, after he had convinced himself that the conservative government of Great Britain was the republic would not support and the French Popular Front government would not intervene out of consideration for the right-wing French generals. Ciano traveled to Berchtesgaden in October 1936 and, after talks with Hitler, signed an agreement on October 25th. Germany recognized the Italian annexation of Ethiopia and agreed to delimit the spheres of economic influence in south-eastern Europe. Both countries agreed to coordinate their aid measures for Franco and to act together in the so - called non - interference committee . Hitler verbally declared the Mediterranean to be an “Italian Sea” and in return claimed freedom of action in the Baltic Sea region and in Eastern Europe. Mussolini made the level of German-Italian relations achieved in this way public on November 1, 1936 in a speech in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan. In it he spoke for the first time of a political "axis" between Rome and Berlin (see Axis Powers ).

Although he accepted Hitler's invitation to visit Germany, which Hans Frank Mussolini had already presented in September 1936, he hesitated to set an appointment. Italy did not initially join the Anti-Comintern Pact either. A British-Italian gentlemen's agreement , with which the two countries recognized the territorial status quo in the Mediterranean in January 1937, indicated that Mussolini continued to speculate on a compromise with the British - but it was "soon forgotten" as the relationship between the two became Powers continuously deteriorated. In late August 1937 an Italian submarine attacked the British destroyer Havock off the Spanish coast . The British also did not hide the fact that Italy began in 1936/37 to support anti-colonial nationalists financially, politically and materially in various parts of British rule, including Malta, Egypt, Palestine and Iraq.

In June 1937, Mussolini finally agreed to visit Germany in September. The visit to Germany (September 25-29, 1937) was Mussolini's first trip abroad since 1925 and the only official state visit he has ever made. Mussolini visited Munich, the Garrison Church and Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, the Krupp works in Essen and a maneuver by the Wehrmacht in Mecklenburg. The highlight was a speech to (allegedly) 800,000 people on the Berlin Maifeld on September 28th. Mussolini was extremely impressed by what he saw in Germany. In November 1937 Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact and shortly afterwards left the League of Nations. In an interview with Joachim von Ribbentrop , Mussolini described the “ annexation ” of Austria to the empire as inevitable. When this took place in March 1938, Italy did not react.

Munich Agreement and "Steel Pact"
Mussolini and Hitler in Munich, September 1938

Mussolini now reckoned with an imminent confrontation between Germany and Czechoslovakia, allied with France and the Soviet Union . He therefore rejected the military alliance that Hitler had discussed during his return visit to Rome in May 1938, especially since Great Britain had formally recognized the Italian annexation of Ethiopia on April 16, 1938. During the Sudeten crisis , Mussolini remained in the background until the end, but then suddenly played an important role. On September 28, 1938, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain brought his proposal for a conference of the four European great powers over Mussolini to Hitler. When the latter had consented, the Italian ambassador telephoned the German demands from Berlin to Rome that Göring had conveyed to him. Mussolini then took this paper with him to Munich and presented it there as an Italian “compromise proposal”, which was finally accepted by the conference in the early hours of the morning of September 30th (see Munich Agreement ). As the Italian press duly highlighted Mussolini's "decisive" role in Munich, he was celebrated by thousands of people as the "savior of Europe" at almost every train station on his return.

After Munich, Mussolini was more determined than ever to exploit the European crisis that Germany had triggered in favor of Italy. Now he also had the Italian maximum demands made public. When Ciano spoke to the Chamber of Deputies on November 30, 1938, in the presence of the French ambassador, about the “natural claims of the Italian people”, suddenly numerous MPs jumped up on cue and shouted “Nice! Corsica! Savoy! Tunisia! Djibouti! Malta!". Before the Grand Council, Mussolini extended this catalog on that day to Albania and part of Switzerland. Before the same body on February 4, 1939, he called Italy a “prisoner of the Mediterranean”:

“The bars of this prison are Corsica, Tunisia, Malta and Cyprus. The guards of the prison are Gibraltar and Suez. Corsica is a pistol aimed at the heart of Italy, Tunisia a pistol aimed at Sicily, while Malta and Cyprus pose a threat to all of our positions in the eastern and western Mediterranean. "

Such a comprehensive program could only be realized through war or through massive diplomatic pressure - and in both cases not without the weight of Germany. Encouraged in part by the Italian military leadership, Mussolini set a course for the military alliance, which had been rejected the previous year, although the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by Germany in March caused considerable irritation in Rome. At the meeting of the Grand Council on March 21, 1939, at which Balbo in particular attacked Italian foreign policy, Mussolini openly portrayed Italy as Germany's junior partner: Germany was demographically superior to Italy by a ratio of 2: 1 and industrially by a ratio of 12: 1. In an interview with Ciano, he downplayed the risk of the apparently unpredictable Hitler involved in a European war against his own will. Albania, in fact an Italian protectorate for more than ten years, was occupied by Italian troops on April 7, 1939 .

At the beginning of May 1939, Mussolini finally agreed to the German-Italian military alliance after Ribbentrop visited again. Ciano and Ribbentrop signed this so-called " steel pact " ( Patto d'Acciaio , a word created by Mussolini) on May 22, 1939 in Berlin, in the presence of Hitler. In the preamble, Italy finally received the binding recognition of the German-Italian border, which Hitler had so far only expressed orally. At its core, the treaty was an offensive military alliance; it envisaged an almost automatic obligation to provide assistance in all military conflicts - including unequivocal wars of aggression - in which one of the parties would be involved, only limited by a vague provision on timely “consultations”. The necessary peace phase of three years, which Ciano mentioned in the preliminary negotiations at Mussolini's request, was verbally promised by Ribbentrop, but did not appear in the treaty text drawn up by German diplomats. Whether the Italian side was clear about the consequences of the contract or a “breathtaking inability” Ciano played into the cards for the Germans is controversial. Mussolini underlined the reservation again in a memorandum that he had Ugo Cavallero deliver to Hitler on May 30th .

Expansion of the "totalitarian state"

From around 1936 the regime went through a self-proclaimed new phase of the fascist "revolution". The debate as to whether this development was a genuine “radicalization” and the successive emergence of a “totalitarian” party state - a thesis that was mainly represented by De Felice's student Emilio Gentile - or whether it was an attempt by Mussolini Making it “ look as if fascism is going through a new and ultra-radical phase” is not over.

In the era of party secretary Achille Starace (1931–1939) the political style of the fascist party changed significantly. After the mass exclusions of the “radicals” operated by Turati and Giuriati and the parallel influx of conservative functional elites, the party opened up to the “masses” after 1932. In 1939, half of the Italian population is said to have either belonged to the party or (more often) to one of its numerous apron, subsidiary and aid organizations. This development was promoted “discreetly”, for example by the fact that membership in the PNF had been taken for granted when applying for positions in the public service since 1937 at the latest. In 1939 membership in the fascist youth organization became compulsory for adolescent Italians. With regular marches and events of all kinds, for which the “fascist Saturday” (sabato fascista) introduced in 1935/36 was reserved, the party now occupied the public space much more than before. A series of campaigns aimed to militarize social life and make Italians “tougher”. The campaign against the “bourgeois” form of politeness, lei , which should be replaced by the “popular” voi in personal dealings , has become known. A campaign against anglicisms sat for the now become a national sport football - the fascists and especially Mussolini until the first half of the 30s largely ignored and even with a specially invented competitive sports in part (volata) had fought - finally the name calcio by which incidentally implied that the game was invented in 16th century Florence. Politically, these measures were mostly coordinated by the party and Starace (since 1937 the party secretary had ministerial rank), but technically they were increasingly handled by the apparatus of the Ministry of Popular Culture (Ministero della Cultura Popolare) created in 1937 . Mussolini drove this development of a “fascist culture” with a large number of speeches in which he emphasized the “totalitarian” and “revolutionary” character of a “third wave” of fascism.

Formal changes in the structure of governance ran parallel. Sometimes the title “First Marshal of the Empire” (Primo maresciallo dell'Impero) , which Mussolini had transferred in April 1938, is interpreted as an attempt to relativize the position of the monarch. In December 1938 the Chamber of Deputies that had emerged from the sham elections in 1934 was dissolved and in March 1939 it was completely abolished. Their replacement was an appointed "Chamber of Fasci and Corporations" (Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni) . The Senate, the traditional forum of the conservative elite, was not affected - according to Mussolini, "the Senate was Roman, but the Chamber was Anglo-Saxon".

Mussolini reacted increasingly "overly sensitive" to all expressions of anti-fascist dissidence. When, after the humiliation in the Battle of Guadalajara in spring 1937, the slogan “Today in Spain and tomorrow in Italy!”, Which had emerged among Italian volunteers of the International Brigades, appeared on houses in Italy, he asked Franco to have captured “red” Italians shot . Ciano and the Italian secret service were demonstrably behind the murder of the Rosselli brothers by French fascists (June 9, 1937); Mussolini's consent is considered certain.

The "flagship" of the new radicalism was the racist turn of fascism that began in the summer of 1938. On July 14, 1938 - as a symbolic blow to the ideals of the Enlightenment, apparently deliberately on the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille - a text appeared in Il Giornale d'Italia, which soon circulated as the “ Manifesto degli scienziati razzisti” . Mussolini at least edited this document and probably also wrote parts of it himself. The manifesto proclaimed the existence of a homogeneous “Italian race” of “Aryan” origin. Jews, "Orientals" and Africans are alien to this race. This prologue was followed by a whole series of openly discriminatory racist and anti-Semitic laws by 1939. On August 3, 1938, the children of foreign Jews were initially excluded from attending school, followed in September by a decree that tried to define who was to be understood as a Jew. On November 17, 1938, an extensive decree forbade the marriage of “Aryan” Italians with members of “other races” and regulated in detail the exclusion of Jews from the military, education, administration, economic life (restriction to small businesses and agriculture) and the fascist party. In addition, all Jews who were not Italian citizens (or who obtained citizenship after 1919) were expelled from Italy.

Although there were racists and anti-Semites among its supporters, Italian fascism had not represented a programmatically binding racism until then. The older anti-Slavic racism had played a constitutive role in the dispute with the Slovenian minority in the northeast, but political anti-Semitism - apart from the Catholic right - had no solid tradition in Italy. The country, in which fewer than 50,000 Jews lived in 1938, had even taken in 3,000 Jews who had fled Germany after 1933. In addition, the Italian Jews were predominantly socially established, "patriotic" and conservative. Quite a few had visibly participated in the rise of the fascist movement on a local and national scale, the number of Jewish members of the PNF was disproportionately high (in the 1930s about 25% of the adult Italian Jews compared to about 10% of the total adult population).

Against this background, the anti-Semitic turnaround , which Mussolini initiated almost single -handedly, met with incomprehension and resistance even in the fascist Grand Council, where on October 6, 1938, one of the very rare sharp disputes occurred in the presence of the Duce . This conflict explains in part the large number of "exemptions" (which ultimately applied to more than 20% of Italian Jews) and the opportunity used by around 5,000 people in the fall of 1938 alone to evade discrimination by converting to Catholicism. There were no physical attacks on Jews and the practice of the religion was not hindered after 1938. The population largely rejected these laws; the local authorities sometimes did not implement them at all or only in appearance - in this question too, "the 'real Italy' did not always follow the official line of the 'legal Italy'". On this issue, Mussolini felt it was imperative to occasionally demonstrate his "credibility" in private. In a conversation with the anthropologist Guido Landra in July 1938, he emphasized the “Nordic” origins of his family. The diary of his lover Clara Petacci records anti-Semitic failures and racist cleansing fantasies, for example about the “extermination” of “racially degenerate” Italians, in which Mussolini saw the descendants of Roman slaves and freedmen. In the more recent literature, however, the racist legislation is not attributed to Mussolini's extremely flexible ideological fixations. The ostentatious racism was ultimately just as opportunistic, incoherent and “hollow” as other highlighted elements of the dictatorship. The Italian race laws are also seen as an attempt to secure the alliance with Nazi Germany by internal harmonization. Mussolini's conviction that a great colonial empire could only be ruled by people who were convinced that they belonged to a “higher race” also played an important role after the establishment of the Impero .

The open turn to racism cooled the regime's relations with the Catholic Church again after the low point of 1931 (cf. Non abbiamo bisogno ). The conquest of Ethiopia, and even more so the intervention in Spain, had won the open applause of the clergy and led to a great public closeness between church and state. The “scientific” race doctrine, however, as it was propagated by the semi-official La difesa della razza magazine launched in the summer of 1938 , collided directly with Catholic universalism. As documents found after the releasing of the relevant holdings of the Vatican archives show, Mussolini tried to moderate the tension and assured the Pope in writing on August 16, 1938 (not without cynicism) that the Italian Jews would not be subjected to any "worse treatment" would than the Jews in the former Papal States; there will be no return to the “colored caps” and the ghettos. In the same context, he demanded that the church abstain from any critical position on the leggi razziali . While individual Italian bishops and leading Catholic intellectuals like Agostino Gemelli publicly supported the anti-Jewish measures, the aging and sick Pius XI. - which irritated and angered Mussolini considerably - apparently determined to a test of strength, in which the core issue was the influence of the church on public life in Italy. His death (February 10, 1939) prevented the publication of the prepared encyclical Humani generis unitas ; the printed copies of a speech that was no longer given on the 10th anniversary of the Lateran Treaty, the distribution of which to the Bishops Pius XI. had arranged on the death bed, Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII. , destroy Mussolini and Cianos if requested.

Crisis of personal dictatorship

With few exceptions, recent research - including the De Felices School - agrees that "the Duce and his regime were in decline in the late 1930s". Mussolini's cynicism and misanthropy reached their climax in this phase and were no longer hidden by him even during public appearances. Leading fascists complained about the atmosphere of suspicion and distrust in the government. In 1938, Bocchini's police reports stated that a “wave of pessimism” was sweeping the country. When Mussolini inaugurated the Fiat Group's new factory in the Mirafiori district of Turin on May 15, 1939, only a few hundred of the 50,000 assembled workers greeted him with applause; everyone else watched his appearance in silence, arms folded, in an unprecedented demonstration of hostility. The "autarky" campaign, which was initiated on the occasion of the economic sanctions of 1935/36 and which was obviously used to prepare for war, had further worsened the living conditions of many people, but now for the first time also affected the wealthy by rationing luxury goods such as coffee and gasoline. The alliance with Germany, which made the country's involvement in a major war likely, was rejected not only by the “masses” but also by a significant part of the elite. Rich Italians began to move their fortunes to Switzerland or to exchange cash balances for gold.

The rift within the power bloc caused by the “anti-bourgeois” campaign of 1938 and 1939 - in the “bourgeoisie”, Mussolini saw here above all “a code for political stagnation, corruption and ideological indifference within the leadership cadre, but also at the base of the PNF “- became evident, but went deeper and touched the fundamentals of the regime. According to the historian Martin Clark, the bourgeoisie preserved its economic independence and social prestige under fascism. She accepted Mussolini in the 20s as he ended the strikes, destroyed the radical left and brought the fanatics under the fascists under control:

“But they did not support his attempts to create a 'warrior race' after 1936, and they certainly did not appreciate being the target of a hostile government campaign in 1938. Now Mussolini himself was the fanatic and his 'battle' confronted the establishment. In doing so, he had undermined the entire base of his regime. He saved the bourgeoisie from nothing and now demanded real sacrifices from them. And so she turned away from him. "

Dictator in the war 1939–1943

From the non belligeranza to the entry into the war

Propaganda representation of Mussolini, around 1939

When the alliance with Germany was concluded in May 1939, Mussolini had assumed that a major European war would not begin before 1942; until then, it is assumed, Italy could expand its position in the Mediterranean with German support and also benefit in south-eastern Europe from the disintegration of the post-war order created by the Paris suburb agreements. This conception was based on the conviction that in the short term neither Great Britain nor France nor Germany would risk a war between the great powers. At the beginning of August 1939 he was still convinced that the German- Polish tensions would be resolved by a “new Munich ”. It was only on August 13, when Ciano informed him about his talks with Hitler and Ribbentrop on August 11 and 12, that Mussolini understood that Hitler not only wanted to occupy Danzig , but was determined to take military action against all of Poland, and thus the danger of one the European war. In contrast to Hitler and Ribbentrop, Mussolini considered it almost certain that Great Britain and France would intervene in the German-Polish war. If this were the case, however, the prerequisites for the foreign policy strategy of Ciano and Mussolini lapsed.

Both were now feverishly looking for a formula that would enable Italy to fail to meet its far-reaching obligations under the "Steel Pact" without openly terminating the alliance. On August 21, Mussolini wrote to Hitler that Italy was not equipped for a major war, but that if negotiations should fail because of the “intransigence of others”, the German side would intervene. Four days later, in a further letter, which Ambassador Bernardo Attolico presented to Hitler in the Reich Chancellery , he made this intervention dependent on the delivery of armaments and raw materials through Germany. The list of Italian needs sent on August 26th was deliberately so excessive (Mussolini demanded, among other things, 150 batteries of heavy flak before the war began) that it had to be rejected. In order not to openly invalidate the German-Italian alliance treaty, Mussolini asked Hitler for an official declaration that Germany did not need Italian support for the time being. This came on September 1st by telegram and was repeated by Hitler in his Reichstag speech on the same day .

On September 1, 1939, Mussolini defined - in order to avoid any reminiscence of the Italian "neutrality" of 1914-1515 - the Italian position towards his cabinet as that of a pro-German "non-warfare" (non belligeranza) . Although the de facto declaration of neutrality was welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Italians, the unspoken admission of the regime that it was not prepared for war led to a sudden loss of reputation against the background of its highly militarized propaganda for years, which some observers of the Matteotti crisis saw remembered. Over the next few months, Mussolini remained waiting. In September, in the course of a partial mobilization of the armed forces, it became clear that their structural deficits were even more pronounced than feared. Regia Aeronautica , which is considered to be the most modern and powerful branch of the armed forces , had "problems counting its own aircraft", as it turned out, and in September 1939 it had only 840 aircraft, some of which were not operational, instead of the 8,528 shown on paper (which the Minister of Aviation Mussolini, who in October 1939 dismissed the responsible state secretary, was apparently not known); the army artillery still consisted to a large extent of guns that had been captured by the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1918, the anti-aircraft cartillery had only two searchlights and 15 batteries with guns of modern design, the armored weapon had only 70 "real" tanks, the rest were light Tankettes . Uniforms and weapons were available for less than 1 million men. Instead of the "150 divisions" that Mussolini had repeatedly boasted about, only 10 were considered capable of combat; Their armament, too, was very out of date by the standards of 1939.

Because of this situation, too, the circle around Ciano, who was convinced of a British-French victory and flatly refused to enter the war on the side of Germany, temporarily gained the upper hand. Even Roberto Farinacci thought it too risky to intervene in the war between the great powers with a “toy army”. At the end of October 1939, Mussolini replaced Achille Starace , the strongest supporter of the German-Italian alliance among the leading fascists, as secretary of the PNF. His successor Ettore Muti was considered a supporter of Ciano. Internally, Mussolini repeatedly verbally moved away from Germany. He described the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty as “treason” and was appalled by the targeted physical annihilation of the Polish upper class by German task forces . What is certain is that he pointed out the likelihood of a German attack to Belgian diplomats and approved Italian arms exports to France. As a demonstration, he let the costly fortification work on the German-Italian border (see Vallo Alpino ) continue.

When the Soviet-Finnish war began in November 1939 , Mussolini made a new attempt to bring about an understanding between Germany, Great Britain and France. At the instigation of Mussolini and Ciano, Germany permitted the transit of Italian arms supplies for Finland . Mussolini saw the chance to bring the Western powers and the signatories of the Anti-Comintern Pact together in a conflict against the Soviet Union by means of "Help for Finland" . The culmination of these efforts was a letter from Mussolini to Hitler, written on January 3, 1940 and posted two days later. He could understand, wrote Mussolini with a view to the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty, “that you avoided the second front after Ribbentrops' predictions about the non-intervention of England and France were not fulfilled”. But he must warn against "constantly sacrificing the principles of your revolution in favor of the tactical requirements of a particular political moment". Mussolini openly threatened Hitler with the fact that “another step forward in your relations with Moscow would trigger catastrophic repercussions in Italy, where general anti-Bolshevik sentiment, especially among the fascist masses, is absolute, brazen and unshakable. (...) Just four months ago Russia was the number one enemy of the world, it cannot have become the number one friend and it is not. This deeply aroused the fascists in Italy and perhaps also many National Socialists in Germany. ”He expressly advised Hitler against an offensive in the West, as it was“ not certain whether the French and English will be able to get down on their knees force or separate. ”With such a step, Hitler was putting his entire regime at risk and increasing the likelihood of the United States entering the war . The solution to the German “habitat question” lies in Russia. In order to enable face-saving negotiations for the Western powers, Mussolini recommended an end to terrorist measures in Poland and the re-establishment of a downsized Polish state. Hitler is said to have discussed the letter at length with Goering and Ribbentrop, but then left Mussolini to wait over two months for an answer. In the meantime, Mussolini submitted a detailed program of negotiations to the US negotiator Sumner Welles on February 25, 1940, which included a new referendum on the future of Austria and the re-establishment of a formally independent Poland. The Welles mission fizzled out because Hitler refused from the outset in his interview with the American, which took place in Berlin on March 2, to talk about the “subject of Austria” and the “question of a future Polish state”.

When Ribbentrop delivered Hitler's friendly reply to the letter of January in Rome on March 10, 1940, he also indicated that a German attack in the West was imminent. Mussolini assured the German foreign minister on March 11th that Italy would intervene in the war “at the right moment” and did not go beyond this vague definition during his meeting with Hitler on the Brenner Pass (March 18).

Mussolini only gave up his wait-and-see attitude in the wake of the German victories in northern and western Europe. He replied evasively to letters from Roosevelt and Churchill dated May 14 and 16, 1940, which tried to prevent him from intervening on the German side. On May 26th, he is said to have told Chief of Staff Badoglio that he would need "a few thousand dead" to be able to participate in a peace conference as a belligerent. Either way, the war would end in September. The final decision was probably made on May 28 or 29, after Mussolini had learned that the British Foreign Minister Halifax had not been able to prevail in the cabinet against Churchill with his proposal to approach Hitler with a peace offer through Mussolini. On May 29, in a meeting with the commanders of the armed forces, he set the start of the war against Great Britain and France on June 5, 1940, but postponed the date for five days after some military had raised serious concerns. On June 10, Mussolini announced the declaration of war in a speech from the balcony of the Palazzo Venezia . The German side now observed the Italian entry into the war, which was still desired in the previous year, with suspicion. At the end of May, Hitler had expressly intervened with Mussolini against attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece . Mussolini accepted the German objections and ordered an army to be assembled on the Libyan-Egyptian border.

For a long time, the history of Italy's entry into the war largely followed the account given in Galeazzo Ciano's diaries, which supports the view that "one man alone" (Winston Churchill) involved the country in the war. The Mussolini biographer Renzo De Felice also takes this point of view. However, part of the more recent research opposes this interpretation and points out that in the specific situation of June 1940 all noteworthy groups of social influence - including the Catholic Church - supported the option of a "short war":

“Since the Italian entry into the war soon turned out to be a disaster and culminated in the embarrassing and cynical sauve qui peut of the old ruling elites on September 8, 1943, when Badoglio and the king screwed up the change of sides, many Italians had every reason to have Mussolini alone To single out guilty parties. Indeed, it is difficult to find a single Italian historian who does not accept the intentionalist thesis that the 'great man' was decisive here. […] But there are reasons to doubt the completeness and uniqueness of Mussolini's power […]. Despite the discomfort Mussolini expressed at the ongoing peace, he did not enter the war until it appeared to have been won by his fearsome German ally. In mathematical terms, fascist Italy watched the front much more carefully than liberal Italy did in 1914-15. It can be asked whether any Italian politician who believed in the myth that Italy was or should be a great power would have waited longer than Mussolini? "

- Bosworth : Mussolini

Failure of the guerra parallela

In June 1940 Mussolini intended to wage a short war for "Italian goals". He coined the term “parallel war” (guerra parallela), which Italy would wage “not for Germany, nor with Germany, but alongside Germany”. As a result, he turned down the German offers to send troops to North Africa or to coordinate military planning. In this way, he wanted to keep the German influence in the Italian areas of interest to a minimum and secure complete freedom of action in all directions, since he assumed that Germany was pursuing its own goals, especially in south-eastern Europe, including those directed against Italy, and that the Italian offensive therefore primarily against the near one Sought to channel east .

A few days before the declaration of war, Mussolini had the king delegate military command to him for the duration of the fighting. In this role he did not deal in detail with operational planning, but reserved the right to make decisions about major military decisions. He believed that he could fulfill the duties he assumed in addition to his other offices with just one assistant. As Commander-in-Chief, Mussolini was responsible for the decision not to occupy Malta , which was almost undefended in the summer of 1940, as well as for the hasty decision to attack the French Alpine Army. He gave the order to do so after Hitler had informed him on June 17, 1940 of the French request for an armistice. The attack, which began on June 20 as a result of the originally ordered defensive deployment and without adequate artillery support, was an obvious failure that the regime's propaganda could not disguise. After the Italian-French armistice agreement (June 24, 1940), under which Mussolini  "temporarily" waived almost all claims against France - in particular the port of Bizerte , which was crucial for the control of the Strait of Sicily and the trouble-free supply of the troops in Libya he had the few motorized divisions of the Italian army relocated to the Yugoslav border. Rodolfo Graziani , the Italian commander in Libya whom Mussolini directed in June, July and August to attack across the Egyptian border, refused to proceed without these formations and made only a limited advance on Sidi Barrani in September .

The attack on Greece , which Mussolini ordered without first consulting his chief of staff on October 15, 1940 - this time strongly encouraged by Ciano - is a blatant example of the grotesque overestimation of Italy's military capabilities by the leading fascists. With this step, Mussolini primarily wanted to ensure that at least Greece remained within Italy's zone of influence after Germany had tied the economies of the Balkan states to itself and began to move troops to Romania on October 12 . Despite the upcoming winter, the difficult terrain and the considerable fighting power of the Greek army, even according to the knowledge of the Italian military reconnaissance, the political and military leadership of Italy considered an army of initially 5 divisions (60,000 men) to be sufficient to subdue Greece from Albania. The attack, which began on October 28, developed into a military and political catastrophe within a few weeks. The Italian units, which were gradually increased to 500,000 men, were only able to hold their own against the Greek counterattack in Albania in the winter of 1940/41. The British air raid on the port of Taranto and the collapse of the 10th Army in Libya made the "parallel war" a fiction until the end of 1940.

The regime's inability to organize effective warfare, which was already apparent after a few months, soon turned out to be a heavy political burden, as the “gap between words and deeds was so absurdly wide” that its legitimacy now also outside of the anti-fascist one Milieus was questioned. There was no doubt that the majority of the Italian soldiers refused to risk life and limb for the regime or for “the Germans”. Police chief Arturo Bocchini Mussolini had already pointed this out in autumn 1939. Above all, however, the fiasco of Italian participation in the war made clear the failure of fascism in areas that had been highlighted by the propaganda for almost two decades as the central touchstones of "fascist modernization". The state of the Italian armed forces, which until the end was completely in the hands of conservative generals who were arrested in accordance with the military doctrines of the First World War, is cited by some historians as essential evidence that “the power of the dictator, somewhere below the chatter and noise, is incomplete and was fleeting ”; the unbroken military traditionalism - together with the similarly failing other institutions of the state and the party - "drastically demonstrated the limits of fascism and the superficiality of Mussolini's alleged revolution".

On January 20, 1941, in a meeting with Hitler at the Berghof , Mussolini conceded an active military role in the Mediterranean region to Germany and accepted the transfer of two German divisions to Libya. From then on, Fascist Italy developed politically, economically and, above all, militarily into a “German satellite”. Mussolini was unable to develop a new political strategy or a clear war target program. Outwardly as always concerned with the preservation of his personal prestige, he admitted in an interview with the new Chief of Staff Ugo Cavallero that everything else depends on the decisions made in Berlin, "because we are unable to do anything." Since 1941, Mussolini was no longer able to assert himself against German decisions in central “Italian” theaters of war. The occupation of Malta , which he had repeatedly warned about until the spring of 1942 - from where the British naval and air forces sank a large part of the supplies for North Africa - did not take place when Hitler decided on June 23, 1942 to cancel the action planned for July and Advocate Rommel's plan for an immediate advance into Egypt. In a characteristic way, Mussolini made "the adventurous assessment of the situation by Hitler and the OKW his own" and flew to Libya at the end of June, where he spent three weeks with a large entourage of journalists and leading fascists on the move into Alexandria and Cairo announced by Rommel was waiting. In relation to those around him he blamed the Italian people, the Germans, fascist gerarchi or his generals for the sequence of failures and setbacks . He continued to make fundamental military decisions from a political point of view; in this way he distributed Italy's limited military resources to a large number of widely spaced theaters of war. After the German attack on the USSR , he forced an Italian expeditionary corps on the reluctant Hitler , which was upgraded to an army in the course of 1942. This association comprised some of the strongest fighting divisions of the Italian army, devoured a large part of the material supplies and was with around 225,000 men stronger than the Italian army in North Africa. After the Balkan campaign in April 1941, Mussolini had insisted on establishing an extensive Italian zone of occupation. They permanently tied about 650,000 soldiers, the occupation of Corsica and south-east France in November 1942 a further 200,000 men.

As head of government, commander-in-chief and minister for all three branches of the armed forces, Mussolini centralized the powers essential for waging war in an unprecedented manner, but did nothing to remedy the deficits. He intervened occasionally and arbitrarily, but let things go as a whole because he was not prepared to endanger the balance of various groups of influence that constituted the regime through drastic interventions. More recent studies therefore predominantly reject the thesis that in parts of the older literature, influenced by discussions on totalitarianism , that Mussolini saw above all a lever for the radicalization of the “fascist revolution” during the war. The Stato totalitario also did not subject industry and agriculture to any decisive military mobilization. The fascist state treated the private sector with “deference”, which gave large companies in particular an independence and freedom of choice that was unprecedented for a warring country. While the liberal state managed to put around 40% of Italy's gross domestic product into the service of warfare between 1915 and 1918, the share of war production in the national product at the height of the efficiency of the fascist war economy in 1941 was only 23% (for comparison : Germany 64% (1942), Great Britain 52%, USSR 61%). At the end of 1940 there were still numerous unemployed in northern Italian industrial cities. It was not until February 1943 that Mussolini initiated the formation of an authority comparable to the German Reich Ministry for Armaments and Ammunition . As a result, Italy produced "the most ineffective, most expensive and fewest armaments of the major states involved in World War II." Agriculture was similarly left to its own devices and suffered from the increasing disorganization of the transport system. As early as 1941, the population had to obtain food largely via the black market - where around two thirds of agricultural production disappeared; the official food rations between 1941 and 1943 corresponded to those in occupied Poland .

The Fascist Party, which had 4.25 million members in 1940, also failed in many ways in supporting the war effort. In addition to her “normal” tasks, she was mainly responsible for organizing civil defense, caring for the evacuees and families of conscripts, controlling prices and fighting the black market. The serious problems in these areas did not go unnoticed by Mussolini, but even here he was unwilling or unable to take decisive action. Ettore Muti, who had considered a party reform and even the dissolution of the PNF, he dismissed at the end of October 1940; the new party secretary Adelchi Serena was a "colorless party bureaucrat" who merely managed the deficits. Mussolini replaced him in December 1941 with the just 28-year-old Aldo Vidussoni . Under Vidussoni, who remained in office until April 1943, the fascist party as a factor in the war effort finally fell out. Many gerarchi simply refused to take instructions from the upstart who was vilified as a "child" and "idiot". Mussolini's speech to the board of directors of the PNF on May 26, 1942, in which he openly admitted that the liberal state organized the warfare between 1915 and 1918 more consistently and successfully is regarded as a document and admission of failure. In fascist Italy, according to Mussolini, one finds “indiscipline, sabotage and passive resistance” at every point; The fascists, too, are mainly occupied with hoarding food and consumer goods for the black market, but politically inactive:

“There are 4 million members of the fasci , 8 million are in the GIL [ Gioventù Italiana del Littorio , the fascist youth organization]. (...) The regime controls around 25 million individuals. (...) Well, what are all these people doing? I wonder what are you doing? "

Crisis of the regime and overthrow

Decline in power

Under the influence of the military catastrophes in North Africa and on the Don, where the Italian army deployed against the Soviet Union (see ARMIR ) was almost completely destroyed in the winter of 1942/43, the smoldering crisis of the fascist regime broke out openly in the spring of 1943. Within the political, military and economic leadership of Italy, a group that was rapidly gaining influence was formed which refused to continue the war on the side of Germany and wanted to achieve an understanding with Great Britain and the United States before the war encroached on Italian territory. Mussolini initially accommodated these efforts and made them an important concession on January 31, 1943 with the dismissal of the Chief of Staff Ugo Cavallero, who was considered a "man of the Germans". Cavallero's successor, Vittorio Ambrosio, was a confidante of the king, around whom conservative forces were gathering, who feared that the monarchy could become involved in the overthrow of fascism. On February 5, Mussolini took over the Foreign Ministry himself in the course of a cabinet reshuffle, but left Ciano - who had already tried to get into talks with the British and Americans through the Italian ambassador in Lisbon in autumn 1942 - in the fascist Grand Council and made him ambassador Vatican , through which numerous connections to the Allied capitals ran. He appointed Giuseppe Bastianini , who had been ambassador to London in 1939/40, as State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry .

Mussolini last addressed the Italians on the radio on December 2, 1942. This “disastrous” speech was the first of its kind in eighteen months and the fourth since the war began. Mussolini admitted - apparently on the assumption that his audience would not blame him - more or less openly that the Italian soldiers were poorly equipped and poorly managed and that the opponents of the war were underestimated. It also seemed to confirm the suspicion that the Italians had widespread since the intensification of the Allied bombing raids in the autumn of 1942 that the country had no significant air defense; his remark that one should not wait to evacuate “until the clock strikes twelve” triggered a panic, completely uncoordinated mass exodus into the rural area in some cities. With this appearance Mussolini lost the "propaganda war" for good. More and more Italians followed the course of the war through the Italian service of the BBC , which made “well-chosen and extremely appealing” propaganda, listened to the Vatican Radio or read the only newspaper with “neutral” coverage, L'Osservatore Romano , whose circulation multiplied.

Mussolini rejected the termination of the Berlin-Rome axis sought by Ciano, Dino Grandi and others. He gave himself up in the hope of being able to secure decisive material and personal support for the Italian warfare with Hitler, and even shift the focus of German war efforts from the Eastern Front to the Mediterranean. If you go over to the strategic defensive in the east and use the forces that are freed up against the Western powers, then, according to Mussolini on April 1, 1943 in an interview with the German ambassador Hans Georg von Mackensen , the victory would be “mathematically ours”. Mussolini took this position in February and March 1943 at meetings with Joachim von Ribbentrop and Hermann Göring and in two personal letters to Hitler. Like the OKW, however, the latter was not even ready to expand material support for Italy because he overestimated the internal stability of the Mussolini regime and - as in the spring of 1942, when Mussolini failed to give German support for the intended conquest of the British "aircraft carrier" Malta had demanded - reclaimed all resources for the planned summer offensive on the German-Soviet front (see Citadel Company ). During the deliberations at Kleßheim Castle on 8/9 In April 1943, Hitler rejected Mussolini's proposals. The delivery of tanks and aircraft, which Mussolini requested several times afterwards, was also refused, although an OKH study in June admitted that the Italian military did not have a single tank division, hardly any anti-tank weapons and an air force that was only "partially operational". However, this analysis also saw "no reason to expect an imminent political crisis."

In the spring of 1943 Mussolini was at the lowest point of a physical decline that had set in in 1940/41 and accelerated in the autumn of 1942 when he lost about 20 kilograms of body weight in three months. He spent most of January 1943 in bed and was still on the verge of physical collapse when he met Hitler in April. He is believed to have had a stomach ulcer , mild form of hepatitis B, and severe depression .

The regime's political and military agony was exacerbated by the country's economic and social crisis. In 1943, Italian industrial production was 31% below that of 1938. Important basic foodstuffs were only available on the black market, their prices had risen five to ten times since the beginning of the war and, because of the wage freeze for workers in 1940, they were hardly payable anymore; in many cities the population was starving. Additional bitterness was caused by the fact that the state authorities proved unable to provide for the people who had become homeless as a result of the Allied air strikes . In March 1943, the regime was shaken by a wave of strikes that spread from the Turin Fiat factories to other northern Italian cities and was not brought under control until the beginning of April through a mixture of “moderate” repression and concessions to the workers. Mussolini had followed the strike, which in the eyes of leading industrialists undermined the "credibility of fascism as an anti-socialist force", with great attention and unrest. Hitler was furious when he learned of the extent of the strike movement and the role that illegally active communists had played in it. Because of the "failure" of the fascist party, Mussolini deposed Aldo Vidussoni on April 19. Carlo Scorza , a leading figure in the militant Tuscan “agrarian fascism” of the early 1920s and former ras von Lucca , was the last party secretary appointed by Mussolini. After a tour of Italy, Scorza Mussolini sent a memorandum on June 7, 1943, in which he passed a devastating judgment on the state of the party, state and army.

July 25th

On 9/10 July 1943 began the expected landing of British and American troops in Sicily . Some Italian units surrendered without a fight, others offered resistance together with the two German divisions stationed on the island. The counterattacks on the landing zones collapsed on July 11th and 12th in the hail of fire from the Allied ship artillery. It was then clear to both the German and Italian military leaders that the island could not be held. On July 14, Vittorio Ambrosio Mussolini pointed out the seriousness of the situation in a memorandum and demanded that Hitler once again shift the focus of German warfare to the Mediterranean region. Otherwise Italy could no longer continue the war. Mussolini agreed with this assessment, but did not present it at the meeting with Hitler that took place on July 19 in Feltre , despite repeated urging by his companions. Instead, on July 20, he accepted in principle Hitler's demand that the Italian troops in southern Italy be subordinate to German staffs. Mussolini's opponents in the leadership of the party, in the general staff, in the upper middle class and at the royal court - all of them "former stirrup holders, profiteers and activists of fascism", to whom nothing was further than "the idea of ​​handing over the business of government to the slowly reorganizing anti-fascist parties “- were now forced to act. In addition to securing their political and military ability to act externally, these elites were primarily concerned with preventing the political development of the anti-fascist opposition by acting quickly and thus creating the conditions for a conservative orientation of the post-fascist regime. The political reorganization ideas of many participants therefore initially boiled down to “fascism without Mussolini”.

After the Allied landing in Sicily, leading fascists had pleaded for the meeting of the fascist Grand Council for completely opposite reasons . The Grand Council was the highest advisory body of the party and (since 1932) of the Italian state. It had not met since 1939. While the group around Ciano, Grandi and Giuseppe Bottai wanted to restrict Mussolini's power, the circle around Roberto Farinacci and party secretary Carlo Scorza, which is connected to the German embassy, ​​wanted to bring about a resolution that would lead to a "revitalization" of the regime and should lead to a strengthening of the German-Italian alliance. The council met on July 24, 1943 in the Palazzo Venezia and, after ten hours of debate, in the early morning of July 25, passed a resolution tabled by Grandi by 19 votes to 7, recommending that the king be in command of the armed forces, which Mussolini had been in 1940 held to take over again. On the other hand, the Council did not decide to “dismiss” Mussolini - as is often wrongly assumed - and it is doubtful whether its members even expected that the conservative forces around the king would use this opportunity to completely separate themselves from Mussolini and the to separate fascist party. The decisive factor for the outcome of the vote was that “loyal” followers of Mussolini like Farinacci misjudged the situation and attacked the personal leadership style and the wrong decisions of the last few years even more decisively than Grandi. Mussolini was also conspicuous during this consultation with his utter apathy; to Scorza's amazement, he allowed Grandi's draft to be put to a vote, which gave some members of the council the impression that he wanted it to be adopted. Possibly this was actually the case - as a prelude to an “honorable” termination of ties to Germany.

Mussolini did not see his position as immediately endangered after the vote. He went to the king on the afternoon of July 25th to officially inform him of the decision. Mussolini offered the monarch to surrender the three armed forces ministries and the foreign ministry. He also announced that he would talk again with Goering, who had announced himself to be in Rome on July 29 on the occasion of Mussolini's 60th birthday, about the proposal for a strategic shift of forces to the Mediterranean region. Surprisingly, Victor Emmanuel III accepted. however, the "proposal" of the Grand Council and gave the dismayed Mussolini to understand that he would also dismiss him as Prime Minister and that Marshal Pietro Badoglio would transfer the office. Mussolini was then taken away in a waiting ambulance and detained in a Carabinieri barracks. The removal of Mussolini was announced on the radio late that evening. Thousands of people gathered in the streets and squares that night and celebrated the fall of the dictator. In Rome, where rumors were also spreading that Hitler had committed suicide, German soldiers are said to have taken part in the rallies. In the "45 days" (quarantacinque giorni) between Mussolini's fall and the occupation of the country by German troops, the fascist party (which was also formally dissolved by the Badoglio government with effect from August 6, 1943) and the institutions created over two decades disappeared Regime almost noiseless.

Mussolini with German paratroopers after the liberation, September 12, 1943

After his arrest, Mussolini was interned on July 28th on the island of Ponza and on August 7th at the La Maddalena naval base off Sardinia . Since a German attack threatened here, the Badoglio government ordered his relocation to the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso massif on August 28 , where a German paratrooper commando freed him on September 12 (see company Eiche ). Four days earlier, the armistice signed on September 3 between Italy and the Western Allies had become known. While the king and Badoglio left Rome headlong and fled to Brindisi on September 9th, the OKW initiated the occupation of Italy prepared under the heading “ Axis ”. At this point in time, German authorities had already envisaged the establishment of a new fascist government, which would include Farinacci, Alessandro Pavolini and Mussolini's son Vittorio , who had been flown to Germany at the end of July / beginning of August. At a meeting with Hitler on September 14th in Rastenburg , Mussolini declared himself ready to head this government. On September 18, he announced his return to Italy via the Munich broadcaster.

Republic of Salò 1943–1945

Mussolini returned to Italy on September 23, 1943 and, four days later, chaired the first session of the new republican government in his private residence Rocca delle Caminate in Meldola . Their composition had caused some difficulties, since Mussolini did not want to include pro-German hardliners like Farinacci and Starace in the cabinet, but several “moderate” fascists declined his invitation. After some hesitation, the Defense Ministry took over Marshal Rodolfo Graziani . At the head of the fascist party, which was newly founded as Partito Fascista Repubblicano (PFR), Mussolini placed Alessandro Pavolini, who up to this point was considered to be “moderate”. While Mussolini was able to assert himself against German proposals on the question of the state designation - Hitler had wanted the designation "Fascist Republic" instead of "Social Republic" - the German veto against Rome as the seat of government remained. As a result, the authorities of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) , which was formally proclaimed on December 1, 1943, were distributed to various cities and towns in northern Italy. Mussolini moved into the Villa Feltrinelli in Gargnano on Lake Garda . In nearby Salo that took Propaganda Ministry established; its regular communiqués ("Salò announces ...") already made contemporaries speak of the Repubblica di Salò .

Mussolini's motives for assuming a position whose relative insignificance - he is said to have repeatedly ironicized himself as the “Mayor of Gargnano” - was completely clear to him from the start, are controversial in research. The thesis that Mussolini “made himself available” and, as a person and in historical judgment, “sacrificed” in order to spare Italy direct German occupation was first proposed in the post-war period by neo-fascist authors and, after 1990, by historians such as Renzo De Felice represented. It dominates the relevant Italian literature in various forms today, with reference often being made to Pétain and the Vichy regime . Other historians, however, reject this argument as both apologetically and historically incorrect: Mussolini was also not without - genuinely fascist - political ambitions in September 1943 and shared the demand of many fascists for “revenge” on the “traitors”. It is also emphasized that the contempt for the Italian people, which Mussolini had already expressed to confidants in previous years, was even more pronounced after his return. Even in the last conversations with journalists, which he deliberately staged as a “life balance” in the spring of 1945, there was no direct or indirect reference to a preoccupation with the fate of Italy or the Italians.

Mussolini's room for maneuver as head of state, head of government and foreign minister of the RSI was extremely limited in terms of space and content. The former Austrian territories annexed by Italy in 1919 - together with parts of Veneto - were placed under a “provisional” German civil administration in September 1943 as so-called operational zones. In the rest of the country too, the RSI's authority was only nominal. The decisions that were essential for politics and warfare were made by the German Commander-in-Chief Albert Kesselring , the SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff , who was responsible for the police apparatus, and the "authorized" Ambassador Rudolf Rahn . Mussolini met Wolff and Rahn several times a week. The economy of northern and central Italy was ruthlessly placed at the service of the German war economy by Major General Hans Leyers , the "General Plenipotentiary" Albert Speers , without consulting the Italian authorities. Since Mussolini's bodyguard and personal means of communication, including the telephone, were not provided by RSI troops but by a department of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler , he could not take a step without the consent or knowledge of German authorities. German doctors also took over his medical care. In Gargnano, Mussolini resumed his old, but now largely irrelevant, practice of receiving several visitors every day in quarter or half-hour "audiences". In addition, he mainly devoted himself to writing articles for the fascist press. In Storia di un anno , Mussolini presented his view of the events of July 1943 and their prehistory.

Mussolini's influence on the struggles with the armed anti-fascist resistance movement , which claimed tens of thousands of deaths and is now widely regarded in Italy as a "civil war", remained marginal. He covered Pavolini's attempts to revive the squadrismo of the early 1920s and expressly advocated the execution of "hostages" after partisan actions . It is undisputed, however, that he intervened several times against the worst excesses of the semi-autonomous fascist militias, which are often sponsored by German agencies. He had Junio ​​Valerio Borghese arrested in January 1944 and the infamous Pietro Koch in October 1944 . Mussolini protested to Rahn against the extermination of entire villages by German "punitive actions" and threatened to resign in this connection in September 1944. Similar statements by Mussolini against the deportation of Italian Jews to German extermination camps are not known. Since the autumn of 1943, a large part of the Jewish population of Italy was concentrated in camps on the basis of new anti-Semitic laws; Around 7,500 people were deported - mostly from the Fossoli camp near Modena  , which had been under German administration since February 1944 - and a few hundred returned. Mussolini did little to promote this policy, but did not intervene either.

On January 11, 1944, Mussolini had five former leading fascists, among them his son-in-law Ciano and the two former fascists Marinelli and De Bono , executed in Verona (see Verona Trial ). Mussolini was fully aware that the accusation of high treason made against the defendants because of their July 25, 1943 vote was not true. The main “conspirators” Grandi, Bottai and Federzoni had, however, now withdrawn. Under pressure from Pavolini and other intransigent fascists who took over the direction in Verona and acted in Mussolini's name, he ignored the appeals for clemency and accepted the break with his daughter Edda, who fled to Switzerland in January 1944.

Mussolini made no more serious attempts to organize a government capable of acting or to develop a government program. The state administrative apparatus remained intact down to the municipal level, but was ignored by the Germans as well as by large parts of the population. This became abundantly clear when the republic called up four classes for military service on November 9, 1943 and fewer than 50,000 men reported in the barracks. Until the summer of 1944, when the four Italian divisions established in Germany were relocated to Italy, the armed forces of the RSI - apart from the paramilitary Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana  - consisted of a few flak and coastal batteries as well as weak units of the air force and the navy. At the end of 1943, Mussolini, who was initially differently oriented by Hitler, had to realize that the German side had no interest in rebuilding the Italian armed forces.

From Gargnano, Mussolini pursued the topic of "socialization" with a certain amount of perseverance, with which he wanted to bring the workers of the northern Italian industrial cities closer to fascism (and believed that he might have found a means against German access to Italian industry). After this tone, which was linked to the programmatic beginnings of fascism in 1919, had already been struck in the Manifesto di Verona in November 1943 , Mussolini kept coming up with this problem in the course of 1944, despite his German "advisor" Rahn categorically rejected the use of anti-capitalist rhetoric. On March 25, 1945, Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop summoned the Italian Ambassador Filippo Anfuso to inform him that Hitler disapproved of this course. What sense the term “socialization” and the “human, Italian and achievable” socialism that was brought up at the same time had in the fascist context remained unclear even to high RSI functionaries until the end. As a result, the “socialization” legislation of the RSI only led to a consolidation of state control of the press and publishing houses and to the election of representative bodies for the workforce in some large companies. Propagandistically, these campaigns turned out to be a complete failure, especially among the workers, and the German authorities were unwilling to negotiate with Italians on economic issues, "least of all with workers or trade unionists." One of the propagandists of "socialization" was the journalist Nicola Bombacci , a former communist who made himself available to the regime in the 1930s and became Mussolini's regular interlocutor and “last friend” in Gargnano.

On 22./23. On April 20, 1944 and on July 20, 1944, Mussolini had his last personal meetings with Hitler. At the meeting at Kleßheim Palace in April, Mussolini gave the German dictator a lengthy lecture in German. He stressed that the RSI's reputation was being undermined primarily by the actions of German agencies, demanded clarity about the German intentions in the "operational zones" and called for humane treatment of the Italian military internees in Germany. On this occasion, Mussolini once again suggested striving for a “compromise peace” or armistice with the USSR and moving the main forces of the Wehrmacht to the West. Hitler tried to convince Mussolini that the "unnatural alliance" between the Soviet Union and the Western powers would not last and announced the imminent use of new German weapons. On July 20, 1944, Mussolini stayed for about three hours in Wolfsschanze , where Claus von Stauffenberg's attempted assassination had failed shortly before . Here Hitler agreed to the transfer of the two Italian divisions still in Germany to Italy. Hitler expressed a sentimental respect for Mussolini right up to the end and is said to have said in the spring of 1945 that nothing had changed in his “personal ties to the Duce”, even if the alliance with Italy was a mistake.


Mussolini in conversation with a member of the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana , 1944

Mussolini performed in public for the last time on December 16, 1944 at the Teatro Lirico in Milan . At the beginning of April 1945, the British and American troops resumed their advance in northern Italy after a de facto cessation of combat for several months. On April 24th they crossed the Po , the next day a revolt of communist and socialist partisans broke out in Milan, which the fascist state apparatus, which was in full dissolution, was no longer able to cope with. In the weeks before, Mussolini had  tried to get in touch with the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (CLN) , among other things through the mediation of the Milanese Cardinal Schuster . He had prepared this last political maneuver with the dismissal of the interior minister, Guido Buffarini-Guidi , a fanatical fascist who was particularly hated by the population (February 21, 1945). Another gesture against the left resistance movement was the immediate "socialization" of industry as a whole, announced on March 22nd. Through Carlo Silvestri he now offered to hand over power to the Action Party and the Socialists if he was allowed an orderly surrender to the Allied forces. The attempted “understanding” with the non-communist wing of the Resistancea finally failed on April 25th. On this day, Mussolini learned from Schuster's staff that SS General Karl Wolff had been negotiating with representatives of the Western powers about a partial surrender of German troops in Italy for weeks . After furious accusations of treason against his German companions, Mussolini fled north that evening, together with his lover Clara Petacci and some fascist functionaries, taking numerous secret documents with them that have been lost to this day. It is unclear whether he intended to escape to Switzerland or, as indicated in various conversations , wanted to deliver a “last battle” with the Brigate Nere gathered in Valtellina . In Menaggio , Mussolini and his merged entourage joined a motorized German anti-aircraft unit. The column of vehicles was stopped by communist partisans on April 27, 1945 at a road block between Musso and Dongo on Lake Como . During the search, Mussolini, disguised as an anti-aircraft gunner, was recognized and taken prisoner. The Milan radio station spread the news on April 27th. The following day a group of partisans from Milan arrived in Dongo. She had been ordered to carry out the death sentence imposed by the CLNAI on April 25 against Mussolini and other leading fascists. Mussolini was shot dead on the outskirts of the village of San Giulino di Mezzegra on the afternoon of April 28, 1945. The circumstances of Mussolini's death have remained the subject of speculation and myths to date. The more recent academic literature has confirmed the core of the “official” version, which was last attacked as a “communist historical legend” in the 1990s.

The corpses of Mussolini, Petacci, Nicola Bombacci, Alessandro Pavolini and a few others were then transported to Milan and hung upside down on the roof of a petrol station on April 29 in Piazzale Loreto , where 15 executed partisans were on display on August 10, 1944 . The corpses were attacked.

Mussolini's Crypt in Predappio (2014)

The body of Mussolini was subjected to an autopsy by American doctors and then buried in an anonymous cemetery in the Cimitero del Musocco cemetery in Milan . On the night of April 23, 1946, it was excavated by fascist activists around Domenico Leccisi and, with the support of pro-fascist priests, initially hidden in Valtellina, in a church in Milan and finally in a monk's cell at Certosa di Pavia . Discovered after three and a half months, the Italian government arranged for an anonymous burial in the Capuchin monastery of Cerro Maggiore . On September 1, 1957, Mussolini was buried in the family crypt in Predappio in the presence of his widow Rachele Mussolini under the bundle of lictors , the symbol of his power and fascism . The way for this had paved the way for the Christian Democratic Prime Minister Adone Zoli , who hoped (and also received) parliamentary support of the neo-fascist MSI from this gesture towards the radical right .

Personality, personal life and family

Mussolini's appearance and personal lifestyle - or what he had passed off as such - were an integral part of the Duce myth, to which the “theatrical personality” belongs. Mussolini was a pioneer of politics as a show business when it was not yet common - not only in Italy - for rhetorical gestures and sentences, staged appearances, outward appearances and mannerisms of leading politicians to determine the public debate. According to Richard Bosworth, the regime was “carried by spin ” (see Spin Doctor ) and should be understood as a “propaganda state”, “in which nothing was as it was claimed and in which words were what counted.” Mussolini worried in the various stages of the regime's development for the binding "words" and delivered the emblematic poses. His characteristic physiognomy, his “bossy” demeanor, his “mimic” presence as a speaker - opening and rolling his eyes, underlining, graduated gestures, abruptly bending forward or backward - were quickly the subject of photography and caricature. In the 1920s, he was considered the most photographed person in history. The pictures of Mussolini that were officially circulated during his lifetime - through postcards, posters, collector's pictures and the press - more or less put into circulation show around 2,500 different motifs. The Duce , gradually constructed by the fascist propaganda through images and text, was always master of the situation, father and husband, lived thriftily and undemanding, worked hard and concentrated, played sports, was an aviator, fencer, physically fit and on top of that a “man of the Culture". Mussolini controlled and directed this creation of myths to a large extent himself, for example through long interviews that he gave to selected foreign journalists over the years.

Much of these ascriptions were invented or characteristically exaggerated. Even Mussolini's state of health, which is treated as a state secret, was doubtful: Since his wounding in 1917, Mussolini had had problems putting on his shoes without outside help. In February 1925 he became seriously ill for the first time and lay in bed for several weeks with internal bleeding. He was probably already suffering from a stomach or intestinal ulcer at this point. An operation was not carried out at his request. From then on, he lived almost exclusively on pasta, milk and fruit and avoided alcohol and cigarettes, but was only able to control the symptoms for a few years. Later he had to repeatedly - also in the meeting of the Grand Council on 24/25. July 1943 - suddenly pressing your hands against your stomach when the pain got too severe. He began to visibly age before his 50th birthday and quickly deteriorated physically and mentally after 1940. In 1943 a Hungarian visitor described him as “very sick. His head was bald, his skin yellowish-white, and he spoke quickly, with nervous gestures. ”The German doctors who examined him extensively in September 1943 diagnosed an intestinal ulcer and an enlarged liver. The doctor Georg Zachariae called him in his notes a "physical wreck on the edge of the grave". However , they did not find any signs of syphilis to date - with implications for the interpretation of his personal development and politics - and neither did the American doctors who examined the corpse in 1945.

A typical example of the construction of the Duce is the "Flieger" Mussolini. Although Mussolini began taking flight lessons in July 1920, he only occasionally sat behind the controls of an airplane. Nevertheless, year after year he published the number of his alleged flying hours, which in total corresponded to the flying hours of a professional pilot. It didn't happen by accident. The cult of pilots and planes was widespread among the “new right” in many countries after the First World War, but it was particularly pronounced among the Italian fascists. Aviation raised the "individual" above the "mass" and was considered to be as modern as it was "anti-Marxist". In the early phase of the fascist movement, Mussolini occasionally appeared in front of supporters in pilot's outfit, later he repeatedly had himself photographed next to or in airplanes. In January 1937 he received a military pilot's license. However, his habit was and remained to pilot planes when they were already in the air. In August 1941, Mussolini caused horror among Hitler's entourage when he insisted on taking control of the machine in which both were on their way to visit troops on the Eastern Front. Part of the construction of the Duce was that Mussolini was staged as a driver of fast cars, an aggressive fencer, tennis player, daring rider, swimmer and skier, who also enhanced the enthusiasm of the Italians for sport by functionalizing the Olympic Committee ( CONI ) and the sports newspapers for took advantage of the support of his person and his politics.

A new element of these roles with a "humanizing" subtext was the "sweating" Mussolini. No other politician of the interwar period was “visible 'human' in this way.” The resulting “peculiar mixture of the divine and the profane” also had a “masculine”, sexual component that was never denied by the propaganda, but rather unspoken in the Duce -Cult was integrated.

Details of Mussolini's promiscuity - some estimates assume around 400 different sexual partners - did not become known until long after 1945. Even before 1922, Mussolini often had relationships with several women at the same time. The most important relationship for his personal development was that with Margherita Sarfatti , who made the salons of the “respectable” Milanese bourgeoisie accessible to the newcomer from the province after 1912. His relationship with the beautician Ida Dalser is also known , from whom the son Benito Albino (1915–1942) emerged in 1915. At Dalser's insistence, Mussolini recognized paternity and paid alimony for the child, but kept a strict distance from them after he entered into a civil marriage with Rachele Guidi in December 1915 . Mussolini Dalser may have churchly married in December 1914. Since Dalser kept making "scenes" for him over the years, he had her admitted to a mental hospital in 1926, where she died in 1937. It is considered certain that Mussolini had other illegitimate offspring. As a dictator, Mussolini used the opportunity to optimally organize his relevant activities. In the Palazzo Venezia there was a “relaxation room” right next to his study, in which he received numerous “visitors”. Mussolini's behavior towards his partners is described as physically and emotionally ruthless. The “revelations” about his sex life have repeatedly occupied popular science and journalistic journalism in recent decades, but are mostly only marginally noted in scientific literature. According to historian Richard Bosworth, the affair with the wealthy doctor's daughter Claretta Petacci , which began in 1936 and lasted until 1945, could be ignored, just like all the others, if it hadn't lasted so long and had ultimately damaged the regime's reputation During the Second World War, the BBC ensured that the machinations of the "Petacci Clan" became known throughout Italy. Bosworth sees Mussolini's relationship with his intellectually far inferior Petacci as a "symbol of the dictator's decline in the last decade of his rule". Rachele Mussolini apparently did not take notice of her husband's affairs for a long time. Only when Petacci also moved into a house in Gargnano did she go to her rival in October 1944 and unsuccessfully ask her to disappear.

Benito Mussolini with his eldest daughter Edda (1925)

The distorted image of the "family man" Mussolini, which was only used more intensely by the propaganda after the conciliazione with the church, was in tension . For a few years after 1922, Mussolini had almost no contact with his wife and children. He first lived a few months in a Roman hotel, then in an apartment in Palazzo Tittoni, where he was supported by a housekeeper. The family stayed in Milan or Forlì, he met them two or three times a year. It was only in autumn 1929 that Mussolini brought the family to Rome, where he had meanwhile moved into the prestigious Villa Torlonia . After 1929 he only received visitors there very rarely, apparently at the request of his wife, who was the “dictator” within the family. Rachele Mussolini continued a "peasant" lifestyle at Villa Torlonia and began to raise chickens, rabbits and pigs on the aristocratic estate. She was “enterprising” in her own way and established a clientele network in Romagna that was dependent on her. Her business interests were one of the triggers for the fall of Arpinati in 1933, who had shown little cooperation with her. Mussolini withdrew from the circle of his family as often as possible at Villa Torlonia, ate meals alone and had the latest films, preferably American ones, shown in the evenings. With the exception of his eldest daughter Edda , he had no close relationship with his children . As Mussolini soon realized, the sons Vittorio and Bruno were without political talent. After the war in Ethiopia, in which both took part as pilots, they hardly appeared in public. Vittorio went into the film industry and did not try to play an active political role until 1943/44, to the displeasure of his father. Bruno embarked on an officer career and had a fatal accident in August 1941 during a test flight with the Piaggio P.108 . The two children born last - the son Romano (* 1927) and the ailing daughter Anna Maria (* 1929) - were too young to play a role in the regime.

The “intellectual” and “cultural man” Mussolini is difficult to classify. Mussolini was a prolific writer. His style was quite polished, and he commented - with varying degrees of depth - on all the major political and cultural debates of his time. His speeches and writings, compiled by supporters after the Second World War, fill 44 volumes. Mussolini was also able to impress in personal conversation; he did not share Hitler's predilection for “aimless chat” and is described by contemporaries who dealt with both dictators as the more interesting interlocutor. However, with increasing age the Duce also tended to monologue anecdotally. It should always be noted that Mussolini's utterances are seldom in a primarily factual or problem-related context, but were primarily intended to evoke a certain impression on the counterpart or reader. At best, they reveal something indirectly about his knowledge and his worldview, which remained indebted to irrational and reactionary ideologies across all breaks and contradictions , but a lot about how he assessed his audience or his interlocutors and wanted to be seen by them: “Even in The acting continued in the face-to-face conversations: his more attentive visitors noticed that Mussolini changed his positions to suit theirs ”. In a conversation with Emil Ludwig in 1932, for example, he rejected any racial theory as untenable, but later referred to Ludwig as a “dirty and presumptuous Jew” to another interlocutor. Many exaggerations, inventions and mutually exclusive contradictions can be found in his statements about science, art and culture. Believing himself to be an expert in all fields, Mussolini made absurd claims such as that he had read all 35 volumes of the Enciclopedia Italiana , read the texts of ancient Greek philosophers in the original, or managed to do so despite the burden of work on him Read about 70 books a year. It was true that he read Plato in translation, for example , and that his other reading was quite extensive; He occasionally sent comments and comments to Italian authors after new publications. He was able to read German and French authors in the original language. Hitler's present for his 60th birthday was a 24-volume complete edition of Nietzsche's works. Despite assertions to the contrary, English-language literature remained relatively foreign to him. His relationship to the performing arts was contradicting itself. He was personally responsible for the awarding of high-value prizes, but often complained that excessive aesthetic refinement had corrupted and softened the Italians for centuries. According to his own admission, he did not understand works of painting, and he almost never went to exhibitions. The usual martial words about a “totalitarian concept of culture” had hardly any direct consequences for artistic production in this area, and popular culture - especially film - was not nearly as closely “managed” in fascist Italy as it was in Germany. In architecture, Mussolini showed a preference for monumental buildings. Rome should - in blatant contradiction to its frequent statements against the urbanization of Italy - become a metropolis like in antiquity, double its population and "overcome" the 20 kilometers to the sea. In the center of the city he wanted to demolish all buildings from the "centuries of decadence" (which Mussolini understood as the 1500 years between the fall of ancient Rome and the Risorgimento). Hardly any of these plans, including the establishment symbolizing a fascism 80m high colossal statue was implemented - ". Once again, the announcement was what mattered, execution was less important" Planned for the 1942 World's Fair erected EUR district remained the most striking architectural legacy of fascism in the capital.

Research has put Mussolini's “modest” lifestyle, highlighted by the propaganda, into perspective. As early as 1919, the Mussolini family was able to move into a representative apartment on Milan's Foro Buonaparte; At that time, Mussolini not only owned a car, he was also one of the first people in Europe to own a private plane. Personally, Mussolini was in some ways indifferent to luxury and money, but quickly became very wealthy as prime minister. He received his salary as head of government (32,000 lire annually) only until 1928 (and then again from 1943). Much of his income consisted of fees and royalties on articles, speeches, and other writings. For a time, for example, the American press magnate William Randolph Hearst paid him the then high sum of 1,500 dollars a week for occasional articles in his newspapers. A British publisher paid him an advance of £ 10,000 for an autobiography that Mussolini wrote (or had written) in 1927/28. The Popolo d'Italia was not only the mouthpiece of the regime, but also the property of Mussolini and, with around 700 employees, a profitable large press company. The Mussolini family also owned around 30 hectares of good arable land in Romagna, which they had cultivated by a modern model farm. In contrast, the expenses that Mussolini had to cover personally were small. The large landowners Torlonias left their Roman villa to the Duce for a symbolic rent. The Rocca delle Caminate near Predappio, which Mussolini had chosen as his old age and family residence, gave him in 1927 "the nation".


After the funeral in 1957, the small town of Predappio became a "place of pilgrimage " for Mussolini's followers. Devotional objects were available on every street corner until the local government banned shop sales in April 2009. Every year on the anniversary of Mussolini's birth and death in July and April and in October on the anniversary of the Marcia su Roma , several thousand neo-fascists gather in Predappio; their march to the San Cassiano cemetery was long led by a priest of the Society of St.

Mussolini's public image in Italy changed dramatically. Up until the 1980s, the three big parties - PCI , PSI and, with  some restrictions, the DC - equally committed themselves  to the legacy of the resistance. Open admiration for the Duce was reserved for the neo-fascist MSI , which had its strongholds in central and southern Italy, where it sometimes received over 20 percent of the vote in elections. Less visible, but politically more important, were the fascist orientations preserved in the networks of the Italian bourgeoisie and in the military, police and secret service apparatus. As early as the post-war decades, an influential section of Italian journalism - prominently the conservative journalist and widely read non-fiction author Indro Montanelli - used the image of the “good uncle Mussolini”, who as a paternalistic dictator did nothing worse than “grimace”. The publication of the first part of the third volume of the Mussolini biography Renzo De Felices and the subsequent controversy triggered by an interview with the neo-conservative American author Michael Ledeen signaled the transition of important contemporary historians to “anti-anti-fascist” positions in 1974/75. De Felice's consensus thesis and his distinction between the fascist “regime” and the fascist “movement” (to which he basically also attributed Mussolini), which was not reactionary and repressive, but future-oriented, optimistic and supported by the “rising middle classes” willing to modernize, pointed out left critics like the historian Nicola Tranfaglia as a large-scale "attempt to rehabilitate the fascist movement".

After 1980, in the public discourse about Mussolini and the fascist regime, more and more relativistic traits emerged, from the initially cautious questioning of actual or supposed “legends” of the anti-fascist culture of remembrance to the open justification of the Duce . At the turn of 1987/88 De Felice, supported by journalists like Montanelli and voices from the environment of the former Prime Minister Bettino Craxi , declared war on the “official culture of anti-fascism” in several newspaper articles. The climax of his campaign was reached in 1995 when he portrayed Mussolini of the years 1943-45 as a “tragic hero” who sacrificed himself for the “fatherland” in an extensive interview (Rosso e Nero) published in book form and reprinted several times . With the collapse of the Italian party system at the beginning of the 1990s and the regrouping of the conservative camp around Silvio Berlusconi in the years that followed, a partly open apology by Mussolini caught on in mainstream Italian politics. Since then, only the racial laws of 1938 and the “fateful” alliance with Germany have been criticized. In 2003, Berlusconi caused a sensation with the statement that Mussolini was not responsible for a single death, and that the regime’s penal camps and prisons were “holiday camps”. As Prime Minister Berlusconi allowed fans to greet him in public with the saluto romano and to celebrate with “Duce, Duce” shouts. In 2010, the Swiss historian Aram Mattioli stated that "revisionist 'normality'" has been implemented in the meantime and is no longer perceived as problematic even in the "middle of society" - with street names, "good fascists" as film heroes and legislative proposals, "the Mussolini's last Contingent and wanting to equate the collaborators of Salò with the fighters of the Resistance ”.

The Australian historian Richard Bosworth sees three roots for this reassessment:

  1. The conservative trend reversal in Italian fascism historiography initiated by Renzo De Felice's monumental Mussolini biography, which was flanked in the 1990s by a wave of autobiographical publications by old fascists and internationally favored by the “ culturalist ” current of historical scholarship, which leaned less for political Rule and its contents interested
  2. the "de-ideologization" of everyday Italian culture, which is particularly advanced due to the complete disappearance of the post-war party system, and in the wake of which the recent history of the country has also found itself in the "melting pot of infotainment ",
  3. the ubiquitous gesture of “anti-anti-fascism” in the big media and the thesis prominently represented in Berlusconi's environment that “communism” was ultimately responsible for the catastrophes of the 20th century and the problems of Italian post-war history.


Editions and document collections

  • Renzo De Felice (Ed.): Autobiografia del fascismo. Antologia di testi fascisti 1919-1945. Bergamo 1978.
  • Renzo De Felice (Ed.): Galeazzo Ciano. Diario 1937-1943. Milan 1980.
  • Charles F. Delzell (Ed.): Mediterranean Fascism 1919-1945. London 1971.
  • Giordano Bruno Guerri (Ed.): Giuseppe Bottai. Diario 1935-1944. Milan 1982.
  • Giordano Bruno Guerri (Ed.): Rapporto al Duce. Il testo stenografico inedito dei colloqui tra i federali e Mussolini nel 1942. Milan 1978.
  • Edoardo Susmel, Duilio Susmel (ed.): Opera omnia di Benito Mussolini. 36 volumes. Florence 1951–1963. (New edition with 8 supplementary volumes Rome 1978–1980.)
  • Mauro Suttora (Ed.): Claretta Petacci. Mussolini segreto. Diari 1932-1938. Milan 2009.


Overview works

  • Richard JB Bosworth : Dictators, Strong or Weak? The Model of Benito Mussolini. In: Richard JB Bosworth (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Fascism. Oxford 2010, pp. 259-275.
  • Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini. London 2002.
  • Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Life under the dictatorship. London 2005.
  • Richard JB Bosworth: The Italian Dictatorship. Problems and perspectives in the interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism. London 1998.
  • Martin Clark: Mussolini. Harlow 2005.
  • Paul Corner: Italian Fascism: Whatever Happened to Dictatorship? In: The Journal of Modern History. Vol. 74 (2002), pp. 325-351.
  • Renzo De Felice: Mussolini.
    • Il rivoluzionario 1883-1920. Turin 1965.
    • Il fascista.
      • La conquista del potere 1921-1925. Turin 1966.
      • L'organizzazione dello Stato fascista 1925-1929. Turin 1968.
    • Il duce.
      • Gli anni del consenso 1929-1936. Turin 1974.
      • Lo Stato totalitario 1936-1940. Turin 1981.
    • L'alleato.
      • L'Italia in Guerra 1940-1943.
        • Dalla guerra “breve” alla guerra lunga. Turin 1990.
        • Crisi e agonia del regime. Turin 1990.
      • La guerra civile 1943-1945. Turin 1997.
  • Nicholas Farrell: Mussolini. A New Life. London 2003.
  • Giuseppe Finaldi: Mussolini and Italian Fascism. Harlow 2008.
  • MacGregor Knox: Mussolini Unleashed 1939-1941. Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War. Cambridge 1982.
  • Aurelio Lepre: Mussolini l'Italiano. Il Duce nel mito e nella realtà. Milan 1995.
  • Denis Mack Smith : Mussolini. London 1981.
  • Pierre Milza : Mussolini. Paris 1999.
  • Luisa Passerini: Mussolini immaginario. Storia di una biografia 1915-1939. Bari 1991.
  • Giorgio Pini, Duilio Susmel: Mussolini. L'uomo e l'opera. 4 volumes, Florence 1953–1955 (The first extensive post-war biography of Mussolini is used as a reference to the present day, despite the fascist background of the author because of its wealth of detail.)
  • Wolfgang Schieder : Benito Mussolini. In: Wolfgang Schieder: Fascist dictatorships. Studies on Italy and Germany. Göttingen 2008, pp. 31–56.
  • Wolfgang Schieder: Benito Mussolini. Beck, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-406-66982-8 .
  • Hans Woller : Mussolini. The first fascist. 2nd, corrected edition. Beck, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-69837-8 .

The early Mussolini

  • Giorgio Fabre: Mussolini's committed early anti-Semitism. In: Sources and research from Italian archives and libraries. 90, 2010, pp. 346-372. (on-line)
  • Klaus Heitmann : Delenda Germania! Germany from the perspective of the young Mussolini. In: Sources and research from Italian archives and libraries . 90, 2010, pp. 311-345. (on-line)
  • Paul O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War. The Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist. Oxford / New York 2005.
  • Hans Woller: Ante portas. Mussolini in Trient 1909. In: Hannes Obermair , Stephanie Risse, Carlo Romeo (eds.): Regional civil society in motion - Cittadini innanzi tutto. Festschrift for Hans Heiss. Folio Verlag, Vienna a. a. 2012, ISBN 978-3-85256-618-4 , pp. 483-500.

The last months

  • Giorgio Cavalleri, Franco Giannantoni, Mario J. Cereghino: La fine. Gli ultimi giorni di Benito Mussolini nei documenti dei servizi segreti americani 1945–1946. Milan 2009.
  • Sergio Luzzatto : Il corpo del Duce. Un cadavere tra immaginazione, storia e memoria. Turin 1998.
  • Pierre Milza: Les derniers jours de Mussolini. Paris 2012.
  • Ray Moseley: Mussolini. The last 600 days of Il Duce. Dallas 2004.
  • Morgan Philip: The Fall of Mussolini. Italy, the Italians and the Second World War. Oxford 2008.

Relationship to Hitler and Germany

  • Frederick William Deakin: The Brutal Friendship. Hitler, Mussolini and the fall of Italian fascism. Translated from the English by Karl Römer. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1962.
  • Lutz Klinkhammer : Between the alliance and the occupation. National Socialist Germany and the Republic of Salò (= library of the German Historical Institute in Rome. Vol. 75). Niemeyer, Tübingen 1993, ISBN 3-484-82075-6 .
  • Jobst Knigge : Fear of Germany - Mussolini's image of Germany. Kovac, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-8300-8340-5 .
  • MacGregor Knox: Common Destiny. Dictatorship, Foreign Policy, and War in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-58208-3 .
  • Pierre Milza: Conversations Hitler-Mussolini 1934-1944. Fayard, Paris 2013, ISBN 978-2-213-66893-2 .
  • Wolfgang Schieder: Myth Mussolini. Germans in audience with the Duce. Oldenbourg, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-486-70937-7 .
  • Hans Woller : Calculation of power politics or ideological affinity? On the question of the relationship between Mussolini and Hitler before 1933. In: Wolfgang Benz , Hans Buchheim , Hans Mommsen (eds.): National Socialism. Studies of ideology and domination. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-596-11984-7 , pp. 42-63.


Web links

Commons : Benito Mussolini  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Duce  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations




  1. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini . London 2010, p. 49.
  2. See Milza, Pierre, Mussolini, Paris 1999, pp. 66, 70.
  3. ^ A b Marc Tribelhorn: When Mussolini received an honorary doctorate from the University of Lausanne In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of April 3, 2018
  4. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 62.
  5. Bosworth: Mussolini. Pp. 54, 59.
  6. ^ Wolfgang Schieder: Benito Mussolini. Munich 2014, p. 27.
  7. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 53.
  8. Karin Priester: The Italian Fascism. Economic and ideological foundations. Cologne 1972, p. 88 f.
  9. Priest: Fascism, pp. 84–86. See also Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 61.
  10. ^ Priest: Fascism, p. 89.
  11. Quoted from Priester: Faschismus, p. 90.
  12. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 60.
  13. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 62 f.
  14. a b c Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 63.
  15. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 57.
  16. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of fascism. Vienna / Frankfurt / Zurich 1969, p. 51.
  17. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 40.
  18. ^ Paul O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War. The Journalist, the Soldier, the Fascist . Oxford / New York 2005, p. 49.
  19. ^ Paul O'Brien: Mussolini. P. 49.
  20. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 66.
  21. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 69.
  22. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 70.
  23. Priest: Fascism, p. 94.
  24. Clark: Mussolini. P. 18.
  25. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 81.
  26. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Pp. 40, 46.
  27. ^ Priest: Fascism, p. 95.
  28. Quoted from Priester: Faschismus, p. 95.
  29. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 76.
  30. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 77.
  31. Clark: Mussolini. P. 17.
  32. ^ Morgan, Philip, Italian Fascism, 1919-1945, Houndmills-London 1995, p. 9.
  33. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 82.
  34. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 84.
  35. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. 84.See also O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War, p. 34.
  36. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 87.
  37. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 88.
  38. ^ Elaborated in detail in Renzo De Felice: Mussolini il rivoluzionario 1883–1920. Turin 1965. A classic criticism in Franco Catalano: Mussolini “rivoluzionario”. In: Il movimento di liberazione in Italia. (No. 80 / July-September 1965), pp. 101-110.
  39. a b c Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 89.
  40. ^ O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War, p. 33.
  41. Martin Clark: Mussolini . Harlow 2005, p. 23 f.
  42. Quoted from Pierre Milza: Mussolini. Paris 1999, p. 174.
  43. Quoted from Priester: Faschismus, p. 100.
  44. ^ Richard Drake: Apostles and Agitators. Italy's Marxist Revolutionary Tradition . Cambridge MA 2003, p. 127.
  45. ^ O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War, pp. 34, 39 and Milza: Mussolini ', p. 175.
  46. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 91.
  47. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 31 f.
  48. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of fascism. Vienna / Frankfurt / Zurich 1969, p. 35.
  49. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 34.
  50. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Life under the Dictatorship 1915-1945 . London 2006, p. 56.
  51. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini . London 2010, p. 91.
  52. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 25.
  53. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 56.
  54. Thomas Widrich: "As much printer's ink as human blood" - Propaganda and war literature in neutral Italy (August 1914 - May 1915) . Frankfurt am Main 1998, p. 48.
  55. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 90. See also Christopher Andrew: MI5. The real story of the British Secret Service . Berlin 2010, p. 153 and Recruited by MI5: the name's Mussolini. Benito Mussolini . In: The Guardian , October 13, 2009, accessed June 15, 2014.
  56. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 92.
  57. On the questionable content of the concept of revolution among the interventionists see Bosworth, Richard, Italy and the Approach of the First World War, London-Basingstoke 1983, p. 127 f. After the spin-off, the interventionist wing of the USI founded the Unione Italiana del Lavoro (UIL), which only gained a certain importance from 1918. In 1919 the Fasci di combattimento largely took over the "social" part of their program from the UIL.
  58. Karin Priester: The Italian Fascism. Economic and ideological foundations. Cologne 1972, p. 103. For details, O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War, p. 40–49.
  59. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 94.
  60. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 93.
  61. ^ O'Brien: Mussolini in the First World War, p. 40.
  62. Quoted from Priester: Faschismus, p. 107.
  63. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 101 and Priest: Fascism, p. 111.
  64. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 101.
  65. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 102.
  66. Quoted from Priester: Faschismus, p. 110.
  67. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 100.
  68. Priest: Fascism, p. 111.
  69. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 95.
  70. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 95 and the same: Mussolini's Italy, pp. 60-63.
  71. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 65.
  72. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 30.
  73. Giovanna Procacci, quoted from Mark Thompson: The White War. Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919 . London 2009, p. 36.
  74. ^ Giovanna Procacci: The political and social consequences of the First World War in Italy and the crisis of the liberal state. In: Hans Mommsen (Ed.): The First World War and the European post-war order. Social change and change in the form of politics . Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2000, pp. 165-183, p. 171.
  75. ^ Charles S. Maier: Recasting bourgeois Europe. Stabilization in France, Germany, and Italy in the decade after World War I . Princeton 1975, p. 305.
  76. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 106 f.
  77. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 105.
  78. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, pp. 101, 106, 108.
  79. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 109.
  80. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 60.
  81. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 65.
  82. ^ See Morgan, Italian Fascism, p. 15. See also Lyttelton, Adrian, The Seizure of Power. Fascism in Italy 1919-1929, London 1987, p. 48.
  83. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 117.
  84. ^ "The program was drafted, publicized, and then left to gather dust." Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 118.
  85. Priest: Fascism, p. 188.
  86. Quoted from Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 120.
  87. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 66 f. and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 114 f.
  88. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 117.
  89. See Lyttelton, Seizure of Power, p. 46.
  90. Quoted from Lyttelton, Seizure of Power, p. 51.
  91. Lyttelton, Seizure of Power, p. 51.
  92. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 118.
  93. a b Procacci: The political and social consequences of the First World War in Italy and the crisis of the liberal state, p. 180.
  94. Maier: Recasting bourgeois Europe, p. 306.
  95. Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, pp. 130 f. and Maier: Recasting bourgeois Europe, p. 307.
  96. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 126.
  97. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 106.
  98. a b Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 157.
  99. ^ Procacci: The political and social consequences of the First World War in Italy and the crisis of the liberal state, p. 180 f. A special study on this subject is Elazar, Dahlia S., The Making of Fascism. Class, State and Counter-Revolution, Italy 1919-1922 , Westport (Conn.) - London 2001. See also Adrian Lyttelton, Seizure of Power , pp. 39f.
  100. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 127.
  101. Quoted from Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 157.
  102. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 121.
  103. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 153.
  104. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 121.
  105. See Lyttelton, Seizure of Power, p. 48f .: “Primarily the division, it is important to understand, was not one between different social programs or conceptions, but one between the pragmatism of Mussolini, wishing to use Parliament and make alliances with the old parties, and the pursuit of integral intransigence. "
  106. See Lyttelton, Seizure of Power, p. 50.
  107. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 123.
  108. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 148.
  109. Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 173 f.
  110. Quoted from Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 180.
  111. Angelo Tasca: Believe, obey, fight. Rise of Fascism, p. 175.See also Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 173.
  112. a b Quoted from Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 175.
  113. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 122.
  114. Quoted from Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 175 f.
  115. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 176.
  116. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 123.
  117. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 135.
  118. Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 177.
  119. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 141.
  120. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 138.
  121. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 137.See also Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 179.
  122. Wolfgang Schieder: Myth Mussolini. Germans in audience with the Duce . Munich 2013, p. 220.
  123. Klaus-Peter Hoepke: The German right and Italian fascism. A contribution to the self-image and the politics of groups and associations of the German right . Düsseldorf 1968, p. 14. Wolff's report on an “audience” with Mussolini is printed in Schieder: Mythos Mussolini, p. 221–230.
  124. ^ Giuseppe Finaldi: Mussolini and Italian Fascism . Harlow 2008, p. 45.
  125. ^ Finaldi: Mussolini. P. 46. See also Wolfgang Schieder: The Italian Fascism . Munich 2010, p. 29.
  126. Schieder: Faschismus, p. 30.
  127. Sven Reichardt: The collapse of parliamentarism in Italy after the First World War 1919 to 1929. In: Andreas Wirsching (Ed.): Challenges of parliamentary democracy. The Weimar Republic in a European comparison . Munich 2007, pp. 61–86, p. 80.
  128. Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 181. Schieder: Faschismus, p. 31 speaks of 14,000 participants.
  129. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 180 and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 139.
  130. Schieder: Faschismus, p. 33.
  131. ^ De Stefani was professor at the University of Padua, Oviglio lawyer in Bologna, Giuriati ex-officer and ex-secretary Gabriele D'Annunzios. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, pp. 185 f.
  132. Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 47.See also Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 187.
  133. Quoted from Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 141.
  134. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 58.
  135. Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 62.
  136. Clark, Mussolini. P. 67.
  137. Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 49. See also Clark, Mussolini. P. 70.
  138. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, pp. 187 f. See also Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 65.
  139. Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 50.
  140. Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 51.
  141. Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 71. See also ibid, p. 74 f.
  142. See Bosworth, Mussolini. P. 158, 160.See also the same, Mussolini's Italy, p. 211.
  143. Quoted from Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 78.
  144. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 78.
  145. Clark, Mussolini. P. 86.
  146. Bosworth, Mussolini. P. 163.
  147. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 80.
  148. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, pp. 211 f.
  149. Quoted from Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 82.
  150. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 84 f. See also Clark, Mussolini. P. 86.
  151. Quoted from Bosworth, Mussolini. P. 166.
  152. Clark, Mussolini. P. 88.
  153. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 216.
  154. ^ Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 216.
  155. See Finaldi, Mussolini. P. 55.
  156. See Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 216.
  157. Quoted from Clark, Mussolini. P. 105.
  158. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 100 f.
  159. Quoted from Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy, p. 215.
  160. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 109 f.
  161. ^ Priest, Fascism, p. 276.
  162. See Finaldi, Mussolini. P.56.
  163. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 106 f.
  164. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 116 f.
  165. ^ Priest, Fascism, p. 244.
  166. Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 117.
  167. Clark, Mussolini. P. 181.
  168. See Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 60.
  169. Clark, Mussolini. P. 176.
  170. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 176 f.
  171. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 167.
  172. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 180.
  173. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 201.
  174. See Clark, Mussolini. P. 179. See also Mack Smith, Mussolini. P. 97.
  175. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 107 and Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 149.
  176. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 107.
  177. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 189.
  178. Clark: Mussolini. P. 108.
  179. ^ Frank Ernst Müller: Aspects of the rhetoric by Benito Mussolini - the 'oratoria di piazza' . Université de Picardie Jules Verne, no year online (PDF), p. 4.
  180. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 124.
  181. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 172.
  182. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 173.
  183. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 171.
  184. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. Pp. 111, 113.
  185. Finaldi, Mussolini, p. 77.
  186. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 211.
  187. Quoted from Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 125.
  188. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 140.
  189. Quoted from Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 126.
  190. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 143.
  191. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 111. Mussolini's political and personal insecurity, which is covered with cynicism for his immediate surroundings, is also an essential narrative thread in the work of Richard Bosworth.
  192. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 109 f.
  193. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 129.
  194. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 146. See also Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 179 f. and the same, Mussolini's Italy, pp. 327, 361 f.
  195. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 177 and Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 111.
  196. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 129 f.
  197. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 354.
  198. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 356.See also ibid, p. 355.
  199. Quoted from Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 128.
  200. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 108.
  201. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 128 f.
  202. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 146ff.
  203. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 226.
  204. Clark: Mussolini. P. 148.
  205. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 130.
  206. Clark: Mussolini. P. 73.
  207. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 110.
  208. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 110 f.
  209. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 169.
  210. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 120.
  211. ^ A b c Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 119.
  212. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 119.
  213. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 112.
  214. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 156.
  215. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 112.
  216. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 128 and Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 123.
  217. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 122 and Clark: Mussolini. P. 132 f.
  218. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 154.
  219. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 154 f.
  220. Clark: Mussolini. P. 156.
  221. See Clark: Mussolini. Pp. 154, 157.
  222. Sabine Gruber: Mussolini's retort cities, for example Sabaudia In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of September 7, 2018
  223. See Finley, Moses, Mack Smith, Denis, Duggan, Christopher, History of Sicily and the Sicilians, 4th, bibliographically revised edition. Munich 2010, p. 332.
  224. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 168.
  225. See Finley, Mack Smith, Duggan, Geschichte Siziliens, pp. 335, 337. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 209.
  226. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 130.
  227. Finley, Mack Smith, Duggan, Geschichte Siziliens , p. 338.
  228. See Finley, Mack Smith, Duggan, Geschichte Siciliens , p. 335.
  229. ^ Finley, Mack Smith, Duggan, Geschichte Siziliens , pp. 336, 343.
  230. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 93.
  231. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 103.
  232. See Finley, Mack Smith, Duggan, Geschichte Siziliens , p. 342.
  233. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 115.
  234. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 116.
  235. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 117.
  236. Deschner, Karlheinz: The rooster crowed again . Econ Verlag, Düsseldorf / Vienna 1980, ISBN 3-430-12064-0 , p. 870 .
  237. An introduction is provided by Richard JB Bosworth, The Italian Dictatorship. Problems and perspectives in the interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism, London 1998, pp. 82-105 and passim.
  238. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 199.
  239. Finaldi, Mussolini, p. 86.
  240. Bosworth, Richard, Italian Foreign Policy and its Historiography, in: Bosworth, Richard, Rizzo, Gino (Eds.), Altro Polo: Intellectuals and their Ideas in Contemporary Italy, Sydney 1983, pp. 65–86, p. 78.
  241. Basically Richard JB Bosworth, Italy and the wider world 1860–1960, London-New York 1996, here especially pp. 36–54.
  242. The two relevant works here are Knox, MacGregor, Mussolini Unleashed 1939–1941. Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War, Cambridge 1982 and the same, Common Destiny. Dictatorship, Foreign Policy, and War in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, Cambridge 2000.
  243. Burgwyn, H. James, Diplomacy and World War. The (First) Axis of Evil, in: Richard JB Bosworth (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, Oxford 2010, pp. 317-335, p. 318.
  244. The “classic” study of this direction, which is clearest in terms of its statement, is Quartararo, Rosaria, Roma tra Londra e Berlino. La politica estera fascista dal 1931 al 1940, Rome 1980. On the unresolved contradiction between the assumption of a "normal", "realistic" foreign policy and the tendency of the De Feliceans to use Italian fascism "literally" in all other matters to take (“revolutionary”, “totalitarian” etc.), Bosworth, Italy and the wider world, p. 38 pointed out. The contradiction also characterizes the relationship between this school and Knox, who essentially only transfers De Felice and Gentile's view of the regime's domestic policy to foreign policy, but was attacked by De Felice as a "historical journalist". See ibid, p. 40.
  245. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 154.
  246. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 256.
  247. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 181.
  248. See Blessing, Ralph, The Possible Peace. The modernization of foreign policy and Franco-German relations 1923–1929, Munich 2008, p. 310.
  249. Quoted from Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 155.
  250. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 154.
  251. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 155.
  252. On Renzetti see Wolfgang Schieder: Faschismus impolitische Transfer. Giuseppe Renzetti as a fascist propagandist and secret agent in Berlin 1922–1941, in: Sven Reichardt, Armin Nolzen (ed.): Fascism in Italy and Germany. Studies on transfer and comparison. Göttingen 2005, pp. 28-58. See also Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 218.
  253. See Edgar R. Rosen: Mussolini and Germany 1922–1923. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte. Vol. 5 (1957), pp. 17-41, pp. 23f. ( PDF (PDF))
  254. See Schieder, Fascism in Political Transfer, p. 48.
  255. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 217.
  256. ^ Renzo De Felice: Mussolini il duce. Part 1: Gli anni del consenso 1929–1936. Turin 1974, p. 423 (footnote 1).
  257. ^ See Lowe, Cedric, Marzari, Frank, Italian Foreign Policy 1870–1940, London 1975, pp. 231 f.
  258. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 217.
  259. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 219.
  260. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 217.
  261. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 220.
  262. See Bosworth: Mussolini. Pp. 220 f., 227 f.
  263. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 220 f.
  264. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 221.
  265. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 219.
  266. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 184.
  267. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 184.
  268. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 219.
  269. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 227.
  270. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 227 and Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 184 f.
  271. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 185.
  272. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 205 f.
  273. ^ Del Boca, Angelo, Gli italiani in Libia (Volume 2). Dal fascismo a Gheddafi, Bari 1988, p. 183.
  274. See Rodogno, Davide, Fascism and War, in: Bosworth, Richard JB (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, Oxford 2010, pp. 239-258, pp. 243 f.
  275. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 207.
  276. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 207.
  277. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 380.
  278. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 170.
  279. However, these tactical gestures towards Arab nationalism were not associated with any commitment, as Mussolini also met several times with leading Zionists such as Chaim Weizmann and specifically promoted revisionist Zionism (until 1938). See Bosworth, Italy and the wider world, pp. 111 f.
  280. ^ Bosworth, Italy and the wider world, p. 50.
  281. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 260 f.
  282. ^ Bosworth, Italy and the wider world, p. 105.
  283. ^ See above all Rochat, Giorgio, Guerre italiane in Libia e in Etiopia, Treviso 1991 and the same, Le guerre italiane 1935–1943. Dall'impero d'Etiopia alla disfatta, Turin 2005.
  284. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 379, derselbe, Mussolini, p. 206 and derselbe, Italy and the wider world, p. 104.
  285. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 185.
  286. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 228.
  287. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 229.
  288. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 186.
  289. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 190 f.
  290. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 241.
  291. Clark: Mussolini. P. 190.
  292. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 192.
  293. Clark: Mussolini. P. 193.
  294. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 245. See also Clark: Mussolini. P. 192.
  295. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 248 and Clark: Mussolini. P. 196.
  296. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 248.
  297. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 198.
  298. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 198.
  299. ^ Renzo De Felice: Mussolini il duce (part 1). Gli anni del consenso 1929-1936, Turin 1974, p. 642.
  300. See De Felice, Mussolini il duce (1), pp. 3, 616, 758.
  301. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 246.
  302. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 246.See also the same, Italian Dictatorship, p. 76.
  303. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 200 f.
  304. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 264.
  305. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 230 f.
  306. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 265.
  307. Clark: Mussolini. P. 234.
  308. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 265 and Clark: Mussolini. P. 239.
  309. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 267.
  310. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 238.
  311. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 269.
  312. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 240.
  313. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 242.
  314. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 270 and Clark: Mussolini. P. 243.
  315. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 243.
  316. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 244.
  317. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 284.
  318. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 284.
  319. Clark: Mussolini. P. 246.
  320. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 247.
  321. See for example Gentile, Emilio, La via italiana al totalitarismo. Il Partito e lo Stato nel regime fascista, Rome 1995, p. 136 f., P. 189 f.
  322. Finaldi, Mussolini, p. 94. Italics in the original.
  323. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 280.
  324. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 282.
  325. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 258.
  326. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 219 and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 259.
  327. Finaldi, Mussolini, p. 95.
  328. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 274.
  329. ^ "The assertion that Fascism had always been racist was unconvincing, except in the sense that every European society, and certainly the liberal democratic ones in Britain and France, carried the potential to be overtly racist." Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 275.
  330. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 122.
  331. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 271.
  332. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 219 and Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 415.
  333. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 221.
  334. a b Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 279.
  335. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 271.
  336. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 277.
  337. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 220.
  338. See Kertzer, David I., The Pope and Mussolini. The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, New York 2014, p. 307 f.
  339. See Kertzer, Pope and Mussolini, pp. 359 f.
  340. The speech, the full text of which became known after the archive was opened in 2006, did not contain the fundamental criticism of fascism that was sometimes suspected. See Kertzer, Pope and Mussolini, pp. 373 f.
  341. Clark: Mussolini. P. 329.
  342. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 212.
  343. Quoted from Clark: Mussolini. P. 225.
  344. See Passerini, Luisa, Fascism in Popular Memory. The Cultural Experience of the Turin Working Class, Cambridge 1987, pp. 189 f.
  345. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 219.
  346. Schieder, Mussolini, p. 88.
  347. See also Sarti, Roland, Fascism and the Industrial Leadership in Italy, 1919–1940, confirming this. A Study in the Expansion of Private Power under Fascism, Berkeley 1971, p. 2 and passim.
  348. Clark: Mussolini. P. 216.
  349. Martin Clark: Mussolini . Harlow 2005, p. 248.
  350. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 287.
  351. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 288.
  352. Mack Smith: Mussolini . London 1981, p. 236.
  353. Wolfgang Schumann (among others): Germany in the Second World War . Volume 1. Preparation, Unleashing and Course of the War up to June 22, 1941 . 2nd, revised edition. Berlin 1975, p. 173.
  354. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 239.
  355. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 290.
  356. Clark: Mussolini. P. 278.
  357. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 237.
  358. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Pp. 443, 446 and Clark: Mussolini. P. 276 f.
  359. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. Pp. 237, 239, 247. See also Clark: Mussolini. P. 253. Because of the qualitative and quantitative underarming, an Italian infantry division had only one ninth of the firepower of a German division. See Schreiber, Gerhard, Stegemann, Bernd, Vogel, Detlef, The Mediterranean and Southeast Europe. From the “non belligeranza” of Italy to the entry into the war of the United States (The German Reich and the Second World War, Volume 3), Stuttgart 1984, p. 61.
  360. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 291.
  361. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 293.
  362. Quoted from Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 237.
  363. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 240. See also Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 292.
  364. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. Pp. 241, 243.
  365. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 241.
  366. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 242 and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 294 f.
  367. Ian Kershaw: Turning Points: Key Decisions in World War II , chap. 4, footnotes 58 and 59.
  368. All quotations from Mussolini's letter to Hitler, in: Gerhard Förster, Olaf Groehler (Ed.): The Second World War. Documents. 3rd, revised and expanded edition. Berlin 1989, pp. 59-61.
  369. Clark: Mussolini. P. 251.
  370. Schumann: Germany, p. 261 f.
  371. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 296 f.
  372. Clark: Mussolini. P. 254.
  373. Clark: Mussolini. P. 255.
  374. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 299.
  375. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 250.
  376. ^ Renzo De Felice: Mussolini il duce (Volume 2: Lo Stato totalitario 1936–1940 ), Turin 1996, p. 844 citing Churchill's speech “one man alone” on Radio London of December 23, 1940 with approval.
  377. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 300. Similar to Clark: Mussolini. P. 255.
  378. Davide Rodogno: Fascism and War. In: Richard JB Bosworth (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Fascism . Oxford 2010, pp. 239-258, p. 249.
  379. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. Pp. 251, 255.
  380. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 257, and Schumann: Deutschland, p. 422.
  381. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 249.
  382. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 254.
  383. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 251 f.
  384. Clark: Mussolini. P. 263.
  385. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 255.
  386. Rodogno: Fascism and War, pp. 250 f., And Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 305.
  387. ^ Finaldi: Mussolini. P. 101.
  388. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 289.
  389. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 301.
  390. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Dictators, Strong or Weak? The Model of Benito Mussolini. In: Same: Handbook of Fascism. Pp. 259-275, p. 272.
  391. “Italy's generals imposed a military-technical, tactical and operational conservatism on the armed forces that was even more jaded than that of their French colleagues. Until it was too late, the army neglected heavier tanks, disregarded the navy radar, and the air force rejected the monoplane fighter. Inadequate training, doctrinal lethargy, administrative disorganization, and the active discouragement of individual creativity created a lower officer corps that was barely able to command and an almost completely uninitiated corps of non-commissioned officers. ”Rodogno: Fascism and War, p. 248.
  392. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 300.
  393. ^ Finaldi: Mussolini. P. 107.
  394. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 306.
  395. Clark: Mussolini. P. 265.
  396. Wolfgang Schumann (among others): Germany in the Second World War. Volume 2. From the attack on the Soviet Union to the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad (June 1941 to November 1942) . Berlin 1975, p. 374.
  397. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 275.
  398. Bosworth: Mussolini. S. 302. See also Finaldi: Mussolini. P. 103 f.
  399. “In other words, Italy's appalling performance was the fruit of the inability and unwillingness of the Duce to put to the test through war the equilibriums that his regime had constructed since 1922. Far from the flight into war being a means by which it would be possible to continue and to radicalize fascisms 'revolution', to topple what was left of the establishment to increase his own power, what Mussolini tried to do was to fight a major European war without in any way altering the balance of forces that had been the product of his long period in government. “Finaldi: Mussolini. P. 103.
  400. Rodogno: Fascism and War, p. 256.
  401. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 466.
  402. a b Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 303.
  403. Rodogno: Fascism and War, p. 256.
  404. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 306.
  405. See Finaldi, Mussolini, p. 103 f. and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 311 f.
  406. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 317.
  407. Quoted from Morgan, Italian Fascism , p. 179.
  408. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Life under the Dictatorship 1915-1945 . London 2006, p. 491 f.
  409. ^ Morgan, Philip, The Fall of Mussolini. Italy, the Italians and the Second World War, Oxford 2008, p. 74.
  410. See Overy, Richard, The Bombing War. Europe 1939–1945, London 2013, p. 513 f.
  411. Quoted from Morgan: Fall of Mussolini. P. 82.
  412. Clark: Mussolini. P. 282.
  413. Quoted from Wolfgang Schumann (inter alia): Germany in the Second World War . Volume 3. The fundamental change in the course of the war (November 1942 to September 1943) . Berlin 1979, p. 423.
  414. Quoted from Schumann: Deutschland, p. 610.
  415. Quoted from Schumann: Deutschland, p. 614.
  416. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 289.
  417. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 426.
  418. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy, p. 483.
  419. Richard Overy: The Bombing War. Europe 1939-1945 . London 2013, p. 525 f.
  420. ^ Renzo De Felice: Mussolini. L'alleato (Volume 1: L'Italia in guerra 1940-1943, Part 2: Crisi e agonia del regime ), Turin 1996, pp. 926-958. See also Tim Mason: The Turin strikes of March 1943. In: Jane Caplan (ed.): Nazism, Fascism and the working class . Cambridge 1995, pp. 274-294.
  421. Morgan: Fall of Mussolini. P. 79.
  422. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 323.
  423. See Morgan: Fall of Mussolini. P. 78.
  424. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 322 f. German in excerpts from Frederick William Deakin: The brutal friendship. Hitler, Mussolini and the fall of Italian fascism. Cologne / Berlin 1964, pp. 378–383.
  425. Schumann: Germany, p. 615, and Ivone Kirkpatrick: Mussolini . Berlin 1997, pp. 480, 485.
  426. Hans Woller: The accounting for fascism in Italy 1943 to 1948 . Munich 1996, p. 13.
  427. Hans Woller: The accounting for fascism in Italy 1943 to 1948 . Munich 1996, p. 14.
  428. ^ "The monarchist coup against Mussolini intended to exclude any such participation. The aim was not simply to keep its planning as secret as possible, but primarily to ensure a socially and politically conservative succession to Mussolini and Fascism. "Philip Morgan: The Fall of Mussolini. Italy, the Italians and the Second World War . Oxford 2008, p. 37.
  429. Wolfgang Schieder: The Italian Fascism . Munich 2010, p. 95.
  430. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini . London 2010, p. 324.
  431. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 295.
  432. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. Pp. 294, 296.
  433. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 291.
  434. ^ De Felice: Crisi e agonia, pp. 1395-1401.
  435. Hans Woller: The accounting for fascism in Italy 1943 to 1948 . Munich 1996, p. 11.
  436. Clark: Mussolini. P. 303.
  437. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 331.
  438. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 327.
  439. ^ Claudio Pavone: A Civil War. A History of the Italian Resistance . London / New York 2014, pp. 276–278.
  440. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 301.
  441. ^ Ray Moseley: Mussolini. The last 600 days of il Duce . Dallas (et al.) 2004, p. 4.
  442. ^ Dietrich Eichholtz: History of the German War Economy 1939–1945 . Volume 2 (1941-1943). Berlin 1985, p. 158.
  443. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 309.
  444. Clark: Mussolini. P. 315.
  445. ^ Robert SC Gordon: Race. In: Richard JB Bosworth (Ed.): The Oxford Handbook of Fascism . Oxford 2010, pp. 296-316, p. 314.
  446. Clark: Mussolini. P. 316.
  447. Clark: Mussolini. P. 307 f.
  448. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 303.
  449. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 304, and Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 19.
  450. Schumann: Germany, p. 648.
  451. Frederick William Deakin: The Brutal Friendship. Hitler, Mussolini and the fall of Italian fascism . Cologne / Berlin 1964, pp. 666–687.
  452. Clark: Mussolini. P. 309 f.
  453. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 23 f.
  454. See Gianluca Falanga: Mussolini's Outpost in Hitler's Empire. Italy's Politics in Berlin 1933–1945. Berlin 2008, p. 280.
  455. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 24.
  456. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 312.
  457. Clark: Mussolini. P. 310.
  458. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 330. See also ibid., P. 30, and Clark: Mussolini. P. 306.
  459. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 21.
  460. Frederick William Deakin: The Brutal Friendship. Hitler, Mussolini and the fall of Italian fascism . Cologne / Berlin 1964, p. 805.
  461. ^ Wolfgang Schieder: Fascist dictatorships . Studies on Italy and Germany. Göttingen 2008, p. 149.
  462. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini . London 2010, p. 27 f.
  463. ^ Ivone Kirkpatrick: Mussolini . Berlin 1997, p. 568 f .; Bosworth: Mussolini , p. 29.
  464. Bosworth: Mussolini , p. 32.
  465. So literally The Death of the Duce . In: Der Spiegel . No. 5 , 1996, pp. 134-136 ( online ).
  466. Moseley provides a summary: Mussolini , pp. 279–307. Detailed additions are made by Cavalleri, Giorgio, Giannantoni, Franco, Cereghino, Mario J., La fine. Gli ultimi giorni di Benito Mussolini nei documenti dei servizi segreti americani 1945–1946 , Milan 2009. However, Pierre Milza speculated with approval about the thesis of an involvement of the British secret service, which Renzo De Felice had made his own shortly before his death: Les derniers jours de Mussolini , Paris 2012, pp. 290-318.
  467. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 334.
  468. a b Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 341.
  469. Clark: Mussolini. P. 332.
  470. Clark: Mussolini. P. 332, p. 1 f. See also Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 354 f. and passim.
  471. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 6.
  472. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 106.
  473. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 172.
  474. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 315.
  475. Quoted in Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 328.
  476. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 334.See also ibid, p. 97.
  477. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 113.
  478. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 119.
  479. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 120.
  480. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 113f.
  481. ^ Arnd Krüger : Sport in Fascist Italy (1922-1933). In: G. Spitzer, D. Schmidt (Ed.): Sport between independence and external determination. Festschrift for Prof. Dr. Hajo Bernett. P. Wegener, Bonn 1986, pp. 213-226; Felice Fabrizio: Sport e fascismo. La politica sportiva del regime, 1924–1936. Guaraldi, Rimini 1976.
  482. a b Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 173.
  483. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 64.
  484. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 98.
  485. See Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 364 f. and Clark: Mussolini. P. 283.
  486. ^ Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. P. 363.
  487. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 305.
  488. Clark: Mussolini. P. 142.
  489. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 149.
  490. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 253.
  491. See Toni Bernhart : Benito Mussolini as a writer and his translations into German. In: Andrea Albrecht , Lutz Danneberg , Simone De Angelis (eds.): The academic 'Rome-Berlin axis'? The scientific-cultural exchange between Italy and Germany 1920 to 1945. Berlin, Boston 2017, pp. 345–399.
  492. See Edoardo and Duilio Susmel (eds.): Opera omnia di Benito Mussolini. 36 volumes, Florence 1951–1963 (new edition with 8 supplementary volumes Rome 1978–1980).
  493. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 177.
  494. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 170.
  495. ^ See Morgan, Italian Fascism, p. 9.
  496. Clark: Mussolini. P. 2.
  497. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 212.
  498. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 177.
  499. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 131 f.
  500. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 7.
  501. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 328.
  502. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 132.
  503. See Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 132.
  504. ^ Mack Smith: Mussolini. P. 136.
  505. See Clark: Mussolini. P. 39.
  506. See Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 195.
  507. Andrea Spalinger: Italy and Mussolini: The fairy tale of the good Duce In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung from May 3, 2019
  508. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 343.
  509. ^ Aram Mattioli: “Viva Mussolini!” The appreciation of fascism in Berlusconi's Italy. Paderborn 2010, p. 73.
  510. ^ Renzo De Felice: Intervista sul fascismo. Bari 1975. German translation: Fascism. An interview by Michael A. Ledeen (afterword by Jens Petersen ), Stuttgart 1977.
  511. Quoted from Wolfgang Schieder: Benito Mussolini. In: ders .: Fascist dictatorships. Studies on Italy and Germany. Göttingen 2008, p. 54. Richard JB Bosworth: Explaining Auschwitz and Hiroshima provides a summary of the dispute . History Writing and the Second World War 1945–1990. London / New York 1993, pp. 134-137.
  512. See Bosworth: History Writing, pp. 138 f.
  513. ^ Mattioli: Upgrading, p. 74.
  514. ^ Richard JB Bosworth: Mussolini's Italy. Life under the Dictatorship 1915-1945. London 2006, p. 531.
  515. ^ Mattioli: Upgrading, p. 51
  516. ^ Mattioli: Upgrading, p. 9.
  517. ^ Mattioli: Upgrading, p. 11.
  518. Bosworth: Mussolini. P. 344 f.